'Unimaginable situation': Doctors report malnourished patients dying from infections at Gaza hospital

Doctors say 22,000 Gazans are sheltering at European Gaza Hospital.

March 25, 2024, 5:03 PM

Doctors with aid organizations have described an "unimaginable situation" at European Gaza Hospital amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.

An emergency medical team with Medical Aid for Palestinians, the International Rescue Committee and the Palestine Children's Relief Fund issued a release on Monday reporting patients are suffering from serious malnutrition and dying from infections at the hospital, located near the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.

While surgeons said they have been able to complete both vascular and orthopedic surgeries, not all patients have been able to receive post-operative care, which led to some of them dying, the team said. Surgeons said they also had to administer emergency nutritional supplies because the malnutrition was affecting patient care.

"The situation is unimaginable," Dr. Konstantina Ilia Karydi, an anesthetist with the team, said in a statement. "This hospital had an original capacity of just 200 beds and, at the moment, it has expanded to 1,000 beds. There are around 22,000 people that have been displaced from other parts of Gaza sheltering in the corridors and in tents inside the hospital, because people feel that it's safer to be here than anywhere else."

The team said the hospital has suffered significant damage as a result of fighting and there is a severe shortage of medical equipment, supplies and medicine, affecting the ability to provide care.

PHOTO: A general view shows damaged buildings in the area around Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Mar. 24, 2024.
A general view shows damaged buildings in the area around Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Mar. 24, 2024.
AFP via Getty Images

Dr. Husam Basheer, an orthopedic surgeon with the team, said hospitals are "managing with the bare minimum of resources."

"One day we wanted to do a plate and screw, which is a standard procedure for bone fixation, but we didn't have the right equipment," he said in a statement. "Sometimes we've also lacked gauze which is a basic supply for surgery. We worked around the challenges we faced and managed in a different way, but the staff here are overwhelmed."

There are no fully functioning hospitals in Gaza and 12 are partially functioning, according to the team.

Over the last week, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has been conducting an operation at Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza, claiming the hospital is being used by Hamas terrorists to "conduct and promote terrorist activity." Troops say there have been 170 "gunmen" killed and about 480 Hamas and Islamic Jihad "militants" have been detained.

Hamas has denied claims it is operating from within the hospital while Gaza health officials have said at least five patients have died as a result of the raid.

Additionally, the Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) said IDF troops suddenly stormed Al Amal and Nasser hospitals, the latter of which has been largely abandoned and is not functional, according to the World Health Organization. The PRS said Monday that staff and wounded patients at Al-Amal Hospital were forced to evacuate on Sunday amid ongoing fighting. The IDF has not commented on the claims.

Meanwhile, groups have struggled to get aid into Gaza amid warnings that famine is "imminent" in some areas.

Israel, with the support of Egypt, has restricted the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza since Hamas came to power in 2007. Those restrictions have tightened since Hamas' terrorist attack in Israel on Oct. 7, with authorities claiming they are trying to limit Hamas' access to weapons.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the main aid agency operating inside Gaza, said on Sunday that Israeli authorities informed the U.N. they would no longer approve any UNRWA food convoys to northern Gaza. The agency has come under intense scrutiny since the end of January when Israel presented a dossier alleging 12 members of UNRWA's staff participated in the Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel, leading to several countries pausing UNWRA funding.

"UNRWA are part of the problem, and we will now stop working with them," David Mencer, an Israeli government spokesman, said Monday. "We are actively phasing out the use of UNRWA because they perpetuate the conflict rather than try and alleviate the conflict."

PHOTO: A picture shows the damage in Nasser Hospital and the surrounding area in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Feb. 26, 2024.
A picture shows the damage in Nasser Hospital and the surrounding area in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Feb. 26, 2024.
AFP via Getty Images

Israeli officials have previously claimed Hamas steals aid meant for Gaza civilians and deny accusations they aren't letting enough aid in. Israeli officials have also said the U.N., its partners and other aid agencies have created logistical challenges, resulting in a bottleneck. The U.N. disputes these claims.

It comes as the U.N. Security Council voted Monday to adopt a resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire for the remaining days of Ramadan, the holy month observed by Muslims, and the immediate unconditional release of hostages being held by Hamas. The Council voted in favor 14-0 with the U.S. abstaining. Israel does have a vote on the Council.

Since Hamas' surprise terrorist attack, at least 1,200 people have been killed in Israel. More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than 73,000 others have been injured in Gaza since Oct. 7, amid Israel's ongoing ground operations and aerial bombardment of the strip, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

ABC News' Naser Atta, Jordana Miller and Sami Zayara contributed to this report.

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