A hospital administrator in Gaza has refused Israeli orders to evacuate, calling such a move medically “impossible” as he begged the international community to pressure Israel to dial back.
“I am refusing this because I cannot discharge our patients,” Dr Ahmed Mhanna, who manages two Al-Awda Hospital branches, said.
He explained too many patients in his care are suffering from gunshot and shrapnel wounds and cannot be moved.
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In a video diary, Mhanna appealed to world political forces to persuade Israel to dial back on rockets being launched in Gaza.
“I’m asking all members, international societies, and Red Cross and WHO, and in law societies international to (put) pressure on the Israeli government to stop these procedures against the civilians and to stop that attack,” he said.
“Stop the war. Stop the bombs being against our civilians.”
More than 1,400 Israelis have died, and 2,670 people in Gaza have been killed. Credit: Getty Images/CNN
Israel’s siege on the city and the shortage of electricity has meant it is difficult for aid and medical organisations to keep track of staff and communicate with them.
Doctors Without Borders executive director Avril Benoit said many of the organisation’s 300 staff in Gaza — including doctors, surgeons and nurses who have worked in the city’s hospitals for years — are “running for their lives”.
“Many of our own colleagues did decide to flee with their families to find safety,” Benoit said.
“They are on the run. They are looking for shelter. They are dehydrated. They’re exhausted.”
Benoit said those fleeing include international staff and Palestinians who have been working for Doctors Without Borders.
Some staff members decided to stay behind and continue working as best they can, she said.
Al-Awda Hospital manager Dr Ahmed Mhanna pleaded for the Israel-Hamas war to stop. Credit: NBC/Supplied
The Israel Defence Forces have massed military personnel and equipment at the Gaza border, preparing to expand a retaliatory aerial attack with what it said would be “an integrated and co-ordinated attack from the air, sea and land”.
It follows Hamas’ brutal assault on hundreds of Israeli civilians and soldiers last week, with estimates 199 hostages are being held by the militants.
Benoit called for Israel to adhere to International Humanitarian Law so that people can flee, and allow international human rights organisations to bring in medical supplies.
“Our ability to deliver life-saving medical aid in an impartial, neutral fashion is being tested like I have rarely seen in all my years with the organisation,” Benoit said.
Egypt said Israel was not co-operating with delivery of aid into Gaza nor with evacuations of foreign passport-holders via the only entry it does not wholly control, at the Rafah border crossing.
Cairo says the vital crossing is not officially closed but was made inoperable by Israeli air strikes on the Gaza side.
Hospitals are running out of painkillers while people are left to drink brackish water. Credit: AP
One hospital in Gaza where Doctors Without Borders is operating has run out of painkillers, meaning patients are left with nothing to alleviate their suffering from wounds, Benoit said.
The water that many are drinking is salty and brackish, but there is no fuel available to run the water treatment plant, she said.
“Many people are going to die not from the direct consequences of the war but from all the other issues that are surrounding them,” Benoit said.
The war has been devastating in both Israel and Gaza. The dead numbered 1,400 with 3,500 wounded in Israel, and 2,670 dead, and 9,600 injured in Gaza, officials said.
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