WHO: Moving seriously ill to Gaza is 'death sentence'

Palestinian authorities have informed the World Health Organization (WHO) that it is "impossible" to transfer vulnerable patients from hospitals in northern Gaza, as requested by the Israeli army

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Palestinian authorities have informed the World Health Organization (WHO) that it is "impossible" to transfer vulnerable patients from hospitals in northern Gaza, as requested by the Israeli army, the WHO said today.

“With the continued (Israeli) airstrikes, civilians no longer have a safe place to go. The Palestinian Ministry of Health has informed the WHO that it is impossible to transfer the vulnerable patients from the hospitals in northern Gaza," said Tarik Yasarevic, WHO spokesman, at a press conference.

These patients include the seriously injured, as well as adults, children and newborns in need of intensive care.

"They are critically ill patients whose injuries mean their only chance for survival is to be on mechanical support," Jasarevic said. “So moving these people is a death sentence. Asking health workers to do something like this is beyond brutal."

Israel ordered that "all civilians" be removed from Gaza City within 24 hours for "their own safety and protection".

The Israeli state continues to pound the Palestinian enclave on the seventh day of its war against Hamas, which began after an unprecedented attack by the Islamist group on Israel that killed around 1.200 people, mostly civilians. In Gaza, the Palestinian Authority has recorded more than 1.500 dead.

The UN asked Israel to reconsider its request for evacuation, considering that it is impossible to do such a procedure in the time given.

The UN spokesman said the health system in Gaza is "at the point of collapse".

Six of Gaza's seven major hospitals are partially operational, according to the WHO.

"Beit Hanoun Hospital, in northern Gaza, is no longer functional due to continuous airstrikes nearby, damaging the hospital and the surrounding streets," Yasarevic said.

The two major hospitals in the northern part of the Gaza Strip – the Indonesian hospital and Al-Sifa hospital – have exceeded their combined capacity of 760 beds, he said.

And 99% of beds at Sifa Hospital – one of the key surgical centers in the enclave – have been taken, he added.

According to the spokesman, "the impact (of an evacuation) will be devastating," especially for the injured who need surgery, patients in intensive care units and newborns in incubators.

There is also a shortage of blood banks in the Gaza Strip.

The spokesman emphasized that the WHO is ready to send medical supplies "as soon as we get the green light."

Source: APE-MPE – AFP – Reuters