The world celebrated Valentine’s Day yesterday, a day dedicated to love and compassion. However, amidst the expressions of love, a stark contrast persists in Gaza, where the people, especially at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, are grappling with a humanitarian crisis that has gone largely unnoticed. The Israeli military’s intensified ground operations and siege have brought the medical facility to the brink, leaving thousands in a state of despair.

Catastrophic Conditions at Nasser Hospital: Nasser Hospital, once the largest functioning medical facility in the Gaza Strip, is now a symbol of the immense challenges faced by the Palestinian people. As of the end of January, the hospital has been under siege, with shortages of crucial resources such as fuel, anesthesia, and medical supplies. The situation inside is nothing short of catastrophic, as described by Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesperson for Gaza’s health ministry.

Israeli Military Obstructs Access: The humanitarian crisis is exacerbated by the Israeli military, which is preventing ambulances and sick individuals from reaching the hospital. The toll of over four months of conflict has resulted in nearly 29,000 deaths and over 67,000 injuries in Gaza, with the majority being civilians. The siege on Nasser Hospital only adds to the suffering, hindering the hospital’s ability to provide essential care to those in need.

Desperate Pleas for Intervention: The desperate plea for international intervention is evident in the words of healthcare professionals and patients alike. Dr. Hatem Rabaa, an emergency room physician, describes the dire situation of waste disposal within the hospital, posing unprecedented health hazards. The inability to bury deceased patients outside the hospital has forced families to dig mass graves within the compound.

Patients Bear the Brunt: The impact of the Israeli siege is acutely felt by patients like Ali al-Akhras, who, despite surviving Israeli bombings, is now facing the prospect of death due to the deprivation of medications and proper medical care. The hospital’s encirclement by Israeli forces has not only disrupted medical treatments but also jeopardized the lives of patients who are unable to receive the care they desperately need.

Ahmed Abu Zariaan, 5, whose face has been disfigured is one of a growing number of children in the war-torn enclave to be registered as “unknown”, or under the acronym WCNSF – “wounded child, no surviving family”.

Ahmed’s family was wiped out in an Israeli air raid as they travelled southwards along Salah al-Din Street, a route Israel designated for safe passage from northern Gaza, in early November.

The Israeli army is preparing a ground invasion of Rafah, a designated “safe zone“, that has become the last refuge for displaced Palestinians.

People are now fleeing Rafah to avoid the military operation and to escape Israel’s ramped-up bombardment of the area, which kills dozens each day.

This raises the question posed by the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Philippe Lazzarini, who said: “Where will the civilians go? There is absolutely no safe place in Rafah anymore.”

Israeli forces are also engaged in military operations in central and northern Gaza, so any mass movement further north would be wrought with danger.

Palestinians in Israel’s designated “safe zones”, such as Salah al-Din Street, have been bombed, executed, forcibly disappeared, tortured and humiliated throughout the war.

International Response and Allegations: The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that none of the 36 hospitals in Gaza are fully functional anymore, and attacks on healthcare have been alarmingly frequent. Israel claims that Hamas uses hospitals for military purposes, an allegation that human rights groups demand to be investigated as potential war crimes. The situation in Gaza, including the siege on Nasser Hospital, has drawn widespread condemnation.

Despite international criticism of Israel, they continue to murder Palestinians. Israel “must listen to its friends and the international community” that civilians cannot be made to “pay the price of defeating Hamas”, leaders of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada say.

As it turns out, the international community and friends of Israel can only act when they want to stop an African President or the Middle East.

Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman


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