Hospitals in Gaza on the Verge of Overcapacity as Prospect of Israeli Ground Incursion Heightens

by Andrew Wright
Israeli-Hamas Conflict in Gaza

On Monday, the beleaguered residents of Gaza packed into hospitals and educational institutions, seeking refuge while grappling with scarcity of essential resources like food and water. Anticipating an impending ground invasion by Israeli forces aimed at neutralizing Hamas following its incursions into southern Israel, over a million individuals have evacuated their residences.

The focus has turned to the Rafah crossing, which connects Gaza to Egypt, as the enclave’s dwindling supplies of food, water, and medicine become increasingly dire. Trucks loaded with critical aid have been idling for days at the crossing, pending negotiations for a cease-fire that would allow them to enter Gaza and facilitate the exit of foreign nationals. The crossing, Gaza’s sole link to Egypt, has been closed for nearly a week due to Israeli air raids.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, indicated that Israel has yet to decide on reopening the crossing from Gaza’s end. The Israeli government has refrained from commenting on the matter.

The situation in the United Nations shelters is becoming increasingly unsustainable, with hundreds of thousands of Palestinians subsisting on less than a liter of water per day. Medical facilities in the region are sounding alarms about potential systemic failure, as emergency generators powering vital equipment like ventilators and incubators are down to roughly a day’s worth of fuel, and medicinal supplies are nearly depleted.

Since the onset of the conflict, the Gaza Health Ministry reports that 2,750 Palestinians have been killed and 9,700 injured, exceeding the casualty numbers from the 2014 Gaza war. On the Israeli side, over 1,400 have died—most of them civilians—since Hamas’ assault on October 7. Israeli military reports reveal that at least 199 hostages have been taken back into Gaza, a number higher than previous estimates, though they did not specify the nationality of these hostages.

The Israeli military has undertaken airstrikes that have decimated entire neighborhoods, while Palestinian militants have retaliated by launching rockets into Israel. A ground assault aimed at eliminating Hamas leadership, recovering hostages, and destroying military assets—many of which are situated in populated areas—is widely anticipated.

Amidst these escalating tensions, Israeli forces have commanded more than a million Palestinians—nearly half of Gaza’s population—to evacuate the city and surrounding areas. The directive is aimed at minimizing civilian presence before launching a large-scale operation against Hamas in the northern sector, which is believed to house extensive tunnel networks and rocket-launching sites.

Hamas, in contrast, has encouraged civilians to remain in their homes. On Sunday, the Israeli military released images purportedly showing a Hamas roadblock inhibiting southward movement of traffic.

For the third consecutive day, Israel announced a limited time window, between 8 a.m. and noon, during which safe passage from north to south would be allowed. Over 600,000 individuals have reportedly vacated the area around Gaza City thus far.

Medical facilities in Gaza are expected to deplete their generator fuel within the next 24 hours, posing a life-threatening risk to thousands of patients, according to the United Nations. The enclave’s lone power plant has ceased operations due to a lack of fuel, following Israel’s complete blockade of the 40-kilometer-long territory in response to Hamas’ attacks.

The World Health Organization has warned that hospitals are “overburdened” as people seek refuge, raising concerns about potential outbreaks of diseases owing to crowded conditions and inadequate sanitation. Four hospitals in northern Gaza have ceased functioning, while 21 others have been instructed by Israeli authorities to evacuate—a command that medical professionals have defied, citing lethal risks to critically ill patients and infants requiring ventilators.

The organization also highlighted that the water crisis, exacerbated by Israel’s decision to cut off water supplies and a lack of fuel for pumps and desalination stations, has put the lives of thousands of hospital patients in jeopardy.

The U.N. agency responsible for Palestinian refugees has been compelled to ration water in schools and other makeshift shelters, providing individuals with a meager 1 liter per day for all their needs.

In a separate development, the Israeli military has instructed residents of 28 communities near the Lebanese border to evacuate due to escalating cross-border hostilities with Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant organization.

As the situation continues to unfold, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has returned to Israel following a tour through six Arab nations, in an attempt to prevent the conflict from escalating into a wider confrontation. President Joe Biden is also contemplating a visit to Israel, although no final decisions have been made.

The Israeli government has stated that lifting the siege on Gaza will be contingent upon the release of all hostages. Meanwhile, the readiness of Israeli forces is heightened by the support of an increasing number of U.S. naval vessels in the region and the mobilization of approximately 360,000 reservists.

This multi-faceted conflict has broad implications, as both sides endure mounting casualties and face complex humanitarian and strategic challenges.

Reporters contributing to this story include Kullab from Baghdad, Krauss from Jerusalem, along with Big Big News correspondents Julia Frankel and Amy Teibel in Jerusalem, Abby Sewell in Beirut, and Samy Magdy in Cairo.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Israeli-Hamas Conflict in Gaza

What is the primary focus of the article?

The article primarily focuses on the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza amid a conflict between Israel and Hamas. It delves into the challenges faced by the healthcare system, dwindling essential supplies, and the impact on the civilian population.

How many Palestinians and Israelis have died according to the article?

The article states that 2,750 Palestinians and more than 1,400 Israelis have died since the conflict erupted. These figures make it the deadliest of the five Gaza wars for both sides.

What is the condition of Gaza’s hospitals?

Gaza’s hospitals are said to be near the point of collapse, with emergency generators running low on fuel and critical medicine supplies almost exhausted. Hospitals are also overcrowded with patients seeking safety.

What is the situation at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt?

The Rafah crossing, which is Gaza’s only connection to Egypt, has been closed for nearly a week due to Israeli airstrikes. Trucks carrying badly needed aid have been waiting at the crossing, and mediators are pressing for a cease-fire to allow them entry.

What are the international responses to the crisis?

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has returned to Israel for diplomatic talks aimed at preventing the conflict from escalating further. President Joe Biden is also considering a trip to Israel, although no plans have been finalized. The World Health Organization and the U.N. are deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation.

What actions have been taken by the Israeli military in anticipation of a ground invasion?

Israel has ordered more than 1 million Palestinians to evacuate Gaza City and its surrounding areas. They have also positioned forces along Gaza’s border and conducted drills for a broad campaign against Hamas, which would include dismantling the group’s military infrastructure.

How have civilians been coping with the crisis?

More than a million people have fled their homes in Gaza, and hundreds of thousands are taking shelter in U.N. facilities. The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees has been forced to ration water, providing less than 1 liter per day to those in shelters.

What is the role of Hamas in this conflict?

Hamas has been firing rockets into Israel and is urging people to stay in their homes despite Israeli orders to evacuate. They are the primary target of Israel’s expected ground invasion aimed at destroying the group’s military capabilities.

What are the repercussions of the crisis on the Lebanese border?

The Israeli military has ordered the evacuation of 28 communities near the Lebanese border due to increasing cross-border fire between Israel and Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group.

What are the potential risks for healthcare in Gaza?

According to the World Health Organization, water shortages combined with a lack of fuel for pumps and desalination stations put thousands of hospital patients at risk. Hospitals are expected to run out of generator fuel in the next 24 hours, endangering the lives of thousands of patients.

More about Israeli-Hamas Conflict in Gaza

  • UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees
  • World Health Organization on Gaza Crisis
  • U.S. Department of State Official Statements
  • Israeli Government Official Releases
  • Hamas Official Statements
  • Cease-Fire Efforts and Mediation
  • Global Humanitarian Aid Organizations in Gaza
  • Israeli Military Updates
  • Arab Nations Diplomatic Efforts

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John Smith October 16, 2023 - 2:26 pm

This is really heartbreaking, you know. Hospitals on the verge of collapse, that’s just a nightmare scenario for anyone. What’s the point of all this suffering?

Mike Davis October 16, 2023 - 8:12 pm

Have to say the part about Hezbollah and Lebanese border scares me. As if this crisis isnt bad enough, it could go regional? Man, this needs to be contained.

Mark Thompson October 16, 2023 - 9:08 pm

Look at the Rafah crossing situation, trucks full of aid just waiting? That’s messed up. And the diplomatic front seems slow. Come on, it’s about saving lives here!

Sarah Williams October 16, 2023 - 9:41 pm

How can the international community just stand by? This is way past politics; we’re talkin’ bout human lives here.

Rachel Green October 16, 2023 - 9:43 pm

What hits hard is the hospitals…running out of fuel and medicine. It’s like a ticking bomb. This needs to be sorted out, like, yesterday.

Alex Turner October 16, 2023 - 11:42 pm

Its tough reading about Biden considering a trip but nothing finalized. Time is of the essence and we are still in the ‘considering’ stage? Makes you wonder.

Emily White October 17, 2023 - 1:03 am

It’s just shocking to see how many civilians are caught in the crossfire. When will it end? Aid needs to get in there ASAP!

Nina Patel October 17, 2023 - 7:15 am

When I read that even the WHO is concerned about disease outbreaks due to mass displacement, I was like this is bad, really bad. Immediate action is needed, no jokes.

Daniel Lee October 17, 2023 - 8:19 am

Cant believe the numbers, thousands dead? And for what? This is a humanitarian crisis that needs immediate attention, no more delays on cease-fires and talks.


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