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Israel and the occupied territories – Latest report on ICRC activities in the field

04-03-2008 Operational Update

Hospitals in Gaza struggling to cope with large numbers of wounded

Over the past few days, escalating violence has continued to affect the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip and of nearby Israeli towns. Military operations have taken a heavy toll among civilians. Uninterrupted clashes and shelling made it very difficult to evacuate the wounded and sick from areas of the Gaza Strip affected by the Israeli incursion.

The fighting has decreased since Monday, but the atmosphere in the Gaza Strip remains tense.

At the same time, hospitals in Gaza are struggling to cope with the influx of wounded, and intensive care units and operating theatres have been working round the clock.   " The main surgical hospitals, particularly in the north of Gaza, are still under immense strain, as staff try to treat the injured, especially those needing emergency surgery, " said Eileen Daly, the ICRC’s health coordinator for Israel and the occupied territories. " The ICRC's priority is to ensure that the wounded are evacuated to hospitals that have the necessary resources and the supplies to treat them, and to facilitate, where needed, the transfer of patients to hospitals outside of Gaza. "

 ICRC providing medical assistance, while fuel supplies remain precarious  

    

Over the past two days, the ICRC has provided urgently needed dressings, sutures, anaesthetics and painkillers, plasma, bed linen, splints and surgical instruments to th e Kamal Edwan and Al Awda hospitals in the Gaza Strip. The ICRC has also offered to deliver supplies of blood, collected by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the West Bank, to Gaza. According to Ms Daly, " The warehouses of the ICRC have enough medical stocks to deal with the current emergency, but this could change very quickly.”

    

The supply of fuel to Gaza hospitals has been unreliable for the past few weeks and remains so. The area continues to suffer blackouts for several hours a day, during which hospitals have to switch on their generators. 

In Israel, the ICRC remains in close contact with the Magen David Adom, which is responding to the situation in Sderot and other affected cities.

The ICRC reiterates that, under international humanitarian law, attacks must not be directed against civilians or carried out indiscriminately. Constant care must be taken to spare the civilian population, and all concerned parties must respect and ensure respect for the rules of international humanitarian law at all times.

 
For further information, please contact:
  Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel +41 22 730 25 90 or +41 79 251 93 18
  Leila Blacking, ICRC Jerusalem, tel +972 2 582 88 45 or +972 52 601 91 50
  Iyad Nasr, ICRC Gaza, tel +972 8 28 28 874 or +972 59 60 30 15
  Yael Segev-Eytan, ICRC Tel Aviv, tel +972 3 524 52 86 or +972 52 275 75 17