The Israeli Army notified the World Health Organization (WHO) this Monday that it must evacuate one of its medical warehouses in the south of the Gaza Strip within 24 hours due to the expansion of ground operations in the enclave, the organization denounced.
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“Today, WHO has received notification from the Israel Defense Forces that we should withdraw our supplies from our medical warehouse in southern Gaza within 24 hours as ground operations will render them unusable“, said the head of the WHO office for the Eastern Mediterranean, Ahmed Mandhari, in a virtual press conference.
For her part, the health system team leader of the WHO West Bank office, Shannon Barkley, said the organization’s team was able to evacuate the warehouse to a new facility that they “encountered with great difficulties” in the southern town. of Rafah, on the border with Egypt.
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Likewise, he pointed out that the WHO has not communicated directly with the Israeli Army “regarding its intentions around facilities” of the UN agency.
In this sense, Mandhari recalled that between October 7 and November 28, the WHO has recorded “an unprecedented number of attacks against health care” in Gaza: a total of 203 attacks against hospitals, ambulances, medical supplies, as well as of “arrests of health workers”.
He also indicated that in less than 60 days the number of hospitals in operation in the Strip has been reduced from 36 to 18, three of which only provide first aid services and the rest, partial services.
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“The 12 hospitals that still operate in the south are now the backbone of the health system”said the Omani, who recalled that many of the medical centers “treat between double and triple the number of patients” above their capacities.
Faced with the collapse of the health system and overcrowding in shelters in southern Gaza, where Israel is demanding the evacuation of Palestinians, the WHO has recorded an increase in infectious diseases, including respiratory infections, scabies, diarrhea and “a worrying sign of hepatitis”.
Regarding this, the WHO regional director of emergencies, Richard Brennan, said that In the shelters of southern Gaza, Palestinians are forced to share a single bathroom among 200 peoplesomething he considered to be “a toxic mixture” and the perfect breeding ground for infectious diseases.
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Thus, he pointed to the possibility of cases of hepatitis A and even hepatitis E, which is transmitted between people through contaminated water, given the severe problems of drinkability and health in the Palestinian enclave, where access to clean water is essential ” to control diseases.
“The answer to all these problems is a ceasefire,” Brennan said.