Israel’s Military Campaign Has Left Gaza’s Medical System Near Collapse

Before Israel’s invasion of Gaza last year, Dr. Mahmoud Al-Reqeb worked in one of the Palestinian territory’s largest hospitals and had a private clinic, caring for women throughout their pregnancies.

Now, he lives in a plastic tent in Rafah, a Palestinian border town where roughly half of Gaza’s population has sought refuge, and treats patients for no charge in another tent. Living under Israeli bombardment, with shortages of food and clean water, the pregnant women he serves struggle to find basic safety and nourishment, let alone prenatal care.

Since the Israeli military began bombarding Gaza six months ago following the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack, its forces have wrecked entire hospitals, struck ambulances and killed or detained hundreds of health-care workers. Israeli restrictions on goods entering Gaza have prevented lifesaving medical supplies from reaching patients, according to aid groups. And shortages of fuel, water and food have made it difficult for medical workers to provide basic services.

The result has been the near collapse of a health care system that once served Gaza’s population of more than two million. By late March, of the 36 large-scale hospitals across Gaza, only 10 were “minimally functional,” according to the World Health Organization.

Israeli officials say that medical centers have been targets because Hamas fighters embed themselves within and under the facilities, and that it is the only way to root out the armed group. Hamas and medical workers have denied this accusation. Aid groups, researchers and international bodies have increasingly been calling Israel’s dismantling of Gaza’s medical capacity “systematic.”

Al Shifa hospital this month after Israeli troops withdrew from the area.Credit…Dawoud Abu Alkas/Reuters
Back to top button