No 'functional' hospitals in northern Gaza, just 9 left in south: WHO

Hospitals in the north are only providing basic first said, the WHO said.

December 22, 2023, 4:18 PM

There are no more functioning hospitals in northern Gaza amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

During a briefing given to U.N. Geneva correspondents on Thursday, the WHO said that just nine out of 36 health facilities in Gaza are operating, all partially and all in the south.

"There are no functional hospitals left in the north," Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, WHO representative in WHO's office for the West Bank and Gaza, said in opening remarks. "Al Ahli was the last one but is now minimally functioning, i.e., still treating patients but not admitting new ones, along with Al-Shifa, Al Awda and Al Sahaba hospitals. These hospitals are still sheltering thousands of displaced people."

At Al Ahil, there are just 10 staff members remaining – all junior doctors and nurses – who are providing basic first aid and pain management, according to WHO. About 80 injured patients are currently sheltering in a church on the hospital grounds and in its orthopedic sedition, many of whom have been waiting for surgery or have undergone operations but risk infection due to a lack of antibiotics and other drugs, the WHO said.

The WHO and other U.N. partners said they recently delivered supplies, including medicine, IV fluids, surgical supplies, wound treatment and birthing supplies, to Al Ahli Arab hospital and Al Shifa hospital in northern Gaza.

PHOTO: A young Palestinian injured in Israeli airstrikes arrives to be treated at Nasser Medical Hospital, Dec. 20, 2023, in Khan Yunis, Gaza.
A young Palestinian injured in Israeli airstrikes arrives to be treated at Nasser Medical Hospital, Dec. 20, 2023, in Khan Yunis, Gaza.
Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images

The groups had also planned to deliver fuel, but were forced to abandon those plans due to lack of safety guarantees and clearance issues, according to the WHO.

"WHO had visited Al Ahli Arab hospital over a week ago and it already looked like utter chaos, completely congested and a disaster zone but it was still partly operational and there were still operating theatres and two health specialists were constantly managing surgeries," Peeperkorn said. "Now, Al Ahli is a shell of a hospital."

It was previously the only hospital in northern Gaza providing surgery. The theaters have since closed due to a lack of supplies, fuel, power and workers.

"WHO will keep striving to supply health facilities in northern Gaza. But without fuel, staff, and other essential needs, medicines won't make a difference and all patients will die slowly and painfully," Peeperkorn said at the briefing.

Of the hospitals in the south, just three have surgical capabilities, according to the WHO. Two hospitals are operating at three times their bed capacity.

Israel has bombed and raided hospitals in Gaza, claiming that tunnels shafts and underground passages used by Hamas fighters have been found underneath the hospitals and that civilians are being used as human shields. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have denied that they are targeting civilians.

"We want civilians not to be in the area where we are fighting," Israeli Lt. Col Jonathan Conricus previously told ABC News. "We want to focus our firepower on Hamas and Hamas only."

Meanwhile, nonprofit CARE International says 100% of the population in Gaza is experiencing a hunger crisis.

The organization's Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Phase Classification (IPC) report released Thursday found Gazans are facing varying levels of hunger and that "virtually all households are skipping meals every day."

More than a quarter of the population is classified as Phase 5, the highest stage of food insecurity equivalent to famine levels of starvation.

"The IPC reveals a dire situation in Gaza, where an alarming 576,600 individuals are currently experiencing catastrophic, famine-levels of starvation," Dalmar Ainashe, CARE's senior technical advisor for food security, livelihoods and nutrition, said in a statement.

"This figure is unparalleled in the IPC's history, especially when contrasted with Gaza's relatively small population," the statement continued. "Prior to this current conflict, the worldwide count of people in IPC Phase 5 was only 128. This number is four times higher due to the dangerous conditions in Gaza."

PHOTO: Palestinians line up for a free meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Dec. 20, 2023.
Palestinians line up for a free meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Dec. 20, 2023.
Hatem Ali/AP

Since Hamas's surprise attack on Oct. 7, more than 20,000 people in Gaza have been killed, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry as of Friday, meanwhile there have been 1,200 killed in Israel, according to the Israeli Prime Minister's Office. Additionally, there have been 139 Israel Defense Forces casualties since the start of Israel's ground operation and 471 since Oct. 7. Hamas is currently holding 129 hostages, but 20 of them are believed dead, the Israeli Prime Minister's Office said.

It comes as the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution Friday calling for urgent steps to allow safe, unhindered and expanded humanitarian access throughout Gaza. Both the U.S. and Russia abstained, allowing the resolution to pass.

ABC News' William Gretsky, Ellie Kaufman and Dana Savir contributed to this report.

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