On Saturday, October 7, Hamas attacked Israel, and Israel was quick to pledge to respond to the terrorist attack.
Palestinian health authorities reported on Thursday that at least 1,417 people were killed by Israeli missile attacks, and another 6,238 people were injured. 2.4 million people are trapped in the Gaza Strip, after Israel tightened the siege on the area.
Dr. Morten Rostrup at MSF describes the situation as very difficult.
– They are in a situation where they are completely isolated from the outside world. All borders are closed, we can only imagine; Without water, without food, and without electricity, this is a very difficult situation for the local people. There is no place in Gaza that feels safe now, Rostrup tells Netafsen.
He is in Norway himself, but keeps in close contact with the organization team as much as possible.
– This came so sharply and suddenly that our team is the one that was there before and is still there. They are international and local employees. Rostrup explains that it is difficult in terms of communication, because the phone system was also disrupted by the attacks.
Watch the video from Gaza:
The director of Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest hospital, talks about the unsustainable conditions.
I had to evacuate during surgery
He gets some updates via satellite phone, but due to the workload of the staff, it is difficult to communicate and coordinate relief work in a proper manner. What he heard were terrible stories.
One of our surgical teams performing surgery on a patient had to leave the hospital in a hurry because he was exposed to bombing. Ambulances were targeted, and several other hospitals and clinics were bombed.
– One of our patients, a 13-year-old boy, suffered burns to almost his entire body after a bomb fell right next to the house and caused a fire. These are very complex injuries that are difficult to treat, Rostrup says.
– I have been in many war zones and situations, but this is very extreme. In Gaza, things have never been so extreme.
– It’s worse than ever now?
– Now it is the worst thing Gaza has ever seen, and Gaza has been under siege for 16 years. There have been wars before, which have negatively affected the local population, but nothing compares to what is happening now in Gaza.
– There are ongoing missile attacks and civilian casualties. You don’t feel safe anywhere.
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Empty in three days
In the Gaza Strip, MSF has an emergency stock, which, given the usual situation on the ground, which is often difficult, should last for three weeks.
– I’ve been using it now in three days. Humanitarian and medical aid must be brought in and collective punishment must stop. This applies to civilians. You should focus on military targets, and should not bomb civilian targets. that it
The organization has its own hospitals and contributes personnel and equipment to local hospitals.
Hospitals are overcrowded and the number of wounded is very high. There is a continuous flow of patients to all hospitals in the Gaza Strip.
– Medical teams are exhausted. Work has been continuing around the clock since the beginning of the war to treat the wounded.
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Fear for life
There are shelters in hospitals, but Rostrup says that bombing occurs almost constantly.
-We cannot guarantee the safety of the hospital. Therefore, there is significant risk in the work that we and many other health professionals are doing out there now.
-Are your employees afraid for their lives?
– Yes, people fear for their lives in such a situation. When a hospital is bombed, of course the people who work there will be afraid. But you just have to do your best and focus on what you are doing.
It’s clear that Rostrup wants to bring in more help.
We would like to send more teams, medicines and medical equipment, but there is a complete blockade, so no support can enter the Gaza Strip now.
-Health workers have lost their lives
The Norwegian Red Cross is not present in the Gaza Strip itself, but has close contacts with National Societies in Israel and Gaza, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross. Everyone describes extremely difficult working conditions.
– The Palestinian Red Crescent and the Red Cross in Israel are on the ground and have been there from the first moment. It’s very difficult work, says Scott M. Sandvik, a senior Middle East advisor at the Norwegian Red Cross.
– Our colleagues there said that health workers on both sides lost their lives. Yesterday, four Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance workers lost their lives while carrying out their work.
– Huge humanitarian consequences
The Red Cross also stresses the importance of its employees having safe working conditions.
– Entire neighborhoods were bombed, so movement became very difficult. Electricity, food, water and fuel have been cut off from Gaza. And now yesterday (Editor’s note on Wednesday) Gaza’s only power plant ran out of fuel, so Gaza is suffering from a major power outage. The only thing providing electricity now is privately owned aggregates. Sandvik explains that these engines will eventually run out, because they run on diesel.
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The Red Cross, like MSF, is concerned that the civilian population is being protected from war.
– It will have very huge humanitarian consequences when hospitals eventually stop working. That is, there is no oxygen and acute treatment for the wounded, and operations will not be successful. So it is crucial that humanitarian organizations are allowed to do their work, and that there is humanitarian access to Gaza, which unfortunately is not happening now, says Sandvik.
– More efforts must be made to ensure that civilians are not affected by war during conflict. The use of high explosive weapons in densely populated areas is incredibly challenging.
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