Gaza's hospitals could shut down because of power cuts

GAZA (NYTIMES) As Palestinians wounded in Israeli airstrikes stream into Gaza’s hospitals, the territory’s health care system, which has deteriorated under a 15-year Israeli blockade, could cease to operate within days due to the closure of its only power plant amid a dwindling supply of fuel, according to its health ministry.

This past week, days before Israeli strikes on Gaza began, Israeli authorities closed border crossings with Gaza, interrupting its fuel supply.

That forced the power plant to shut down at noon Saturday, subjecting Gaza to rolling electricity cuts of more than 20 hours a day.

With Gaza’s hospitals now mostly reliant on generators, Dr Medhat Abbas, a ministry spokesman, said in an interview Sunday that there wasn’t enough fuel to power the generators beyond Tuesday, which would leave the hospitals with nearly no electricity.

At least 44 people have been killed, including 15 children, and 311 injured since Israel began airstrikes on Gaza on Friday, according to the health ministry.

In some Gaza hospitals, there are not enough rooms, and patients are being treated in the halls and corridors.

Israeli officials said that the strikes had targeted members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second-largest militant group in Gaza after Hamas, and that the crossings with Gaza were closed this past week because of intelligence about a planned attack by the group.

In response to the airstrikes, Islamic Jihad and other smaller Palestinian militant groups in Gaza have fired rockets into Israel.

Since 2007, Gaza has been under a severe land, air and sea blockade by Israel and Egypt, restricting what and how much comes into the impoverished coastal enclave and limiting how many of its roughly 2 million residents can leave. Those restrictions also apply to medicines and medical equipment.

Patients needing advanced care must get special permission to travel to the occupied West Bank or Israel to receive treatments such as chemotherapy or heart surgery.

Dozens of such patients in Gaza have been unable to leave since the closing of the crossings, according to the health ministry and the United Nations (UN).

“The right to health is already severely compromised due to long-standing shortages and the heavily restricted movement in and out of Gaza,” the UN’s humanitarian agency said in a statement.

The health ministry said Gaza’s hospitals had only 60 per cent of the essential medicines they need and 40 per cent of laboratory and blood bank supplies, describing the situation as the worst it had been in years.

Dr Abbas said hospitals had stopped all elective surgeries and treatment.

“We can only treat emergency cases with the shortage of medicines and supplies,” he said. “We want to preserve some of our resources in order to deal with the number of cases coming into the emergency room.”

Disclaimer: This report is automatically generated from worldwide news services. NTN is not responsible for its content and does not moderate it.

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