Gaza Health Care System ‘On Its Knees’ as Experts Warn Disease Will Spread

by | Dec 13, 2023

Gaza Health Care System ‘On Its Knees’ as Experts Warn Disease Will Spread

by | Dec 13, 2023

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UN Shelter Gaza

International humanitarian agencies are warning that Gaza’s health care system is near collapse as Israeli military operations have disabled most of the besieged enclave’s hospitals. The devastation of Gaza is causing diseases to spread. Israeli experts warn the epidemic could begin circulating in Israel. 

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there are “signals of epidemic diseases [in Gaza] including bloody diarrhea and jaundice.” He added that Gaza’s health system “is on its knees and collapsing.”

WHO representative in Gaza, Richard Peeperkorn, explained the Israeli military operations in Gaza have decimated the health care facilities. Since Israel began military operations in Gaza, “the health system has gone from 36 functional hospitals to 11 partially functional hospitals – one in the north and 10 in the south,” he said.

The Israeli Defense Forces are making it nearly impossible for doctors to save lives. In northern Gaza, Israeli soldiers are arresting dozens of doctors and firing on medical convoys. The outbreak of diseases in Gaza is caused by the Israeli destruction of infrastructure and restriction of aid. 

Galit Cohen, a former Environmental Protection Ministry director general and today a researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies, is studying the problem and has now said, “The issue of sanitation and sewage is the biggest of them all. The moment that the majority of a population is crowded into a densely populated area, ensuring the continued operation of wastewater treatment facilities and the sewage system is critical.”

Cohen continues, “Sewage overflows bring disease and epidemics that can reach us. We know that in northern Gaza, the wastewater treatment facilities stopped working because the fuel was diverted away.”

Israel is pushing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians into tent cities with no water, food, or bathrooms. A resident of one region of Gaza deemed a safe zone by Israel said, “There are no toilets, so people relieve themselves wherever they can. Some leave the camp and head to nearby hospitals to use their facilities.”

Ghebreyesus described the hygiene situation at UN shelters. “On average, there is one shower unit for every 700 people and one toilet for every 150 people, and there are worrying signals of epidemic diseases including bloody diarrhea, and jaundice,” he said. 

Prof. Dorit Nitzan, the director of the emergency medicine program at the Ben-Gurion University’s School of Public Health, predicted disease will spread from Palestinians in Gaza to Israelis. “I estimate that within a few weeks, we’ll begin to feel it in Israel. Initially, it will be in the southern locales and then it will be spread by soldiers who get infected and pass [disease] along to their families,” he explained.

About Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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