Gaza: humanitarian needs increase despite aid

01-01-2009 Operational Update

With air strikes continuing throughout the first night of 2009, more casualties have been arriving at Gaza hospitals. According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), seven civilians were killed, including one child, and 17 were injured. Further damage was reported to homes and administrative buildings, including hospitals. This morning, the streets of Gaza were largely empty.

  ©Reuters /S. Salem    
  01.01.2009 Rafah, southern Gaza.    
  ©Reuters /S. Salem    
  01.01.2009 A wounded Palestinian girl is carried into Shifa hospital in Gaza    
  ©Reuters /A. Dalsh    
  31.12.2008 Rafah. Red Crescent personnel help an injured Palestinian man into an ambulance.    


At Nasr children's hospital in Gaza City, windows have been shattered by the force of the explosions. The ICRC plans to provide plastic sheeting to cover the windows as soon as possible to help keep the patients warm. Meanwhile, in the town of Khan Younis, the PRCS moved its ambulance station to nearby El Amal Hospital, fearing bombardments.

Several ministries were hit and destroyed. " With every bomb, our house shakes violently as if struck by an earthquake. The foundations might not resist much longer, " said one resident of Rafah, in the south of the Gaza strip.

" There is almost no electricity in Gaza city and cooking gas has run out. The water supply is extremely limited. People are trying to fill pots, pans and everything they have, if by chance they have electricity for pumping water and the water is running at the same time, " said an ICRC worker who is regularly assessing the situation on the ground.
Medical assistance to hospitals  

While ICRC trucks with medical supplies have been able to cross into the Gaza Strip, the organization has been unable to deliver these goods directly to hospitals. The supplies have either been delivered to the ministry of health warehouse from where they are distributed to hospitals, or else hospital staff have collected the items from the ICRC warehouses in Gaza. Those warehouses will shortly be issuing war surgery items, intravenous fluids, bandages and plastic sheeting to eight of Gaza’s hospitals. The ICRC has also been delivering aid to the PRCS in Gaza for distribution.

The ICRC is planning to bring two generators into Gaz a for use at hospitals, plus four truck loads of PRCS medical and shelter goods, including hygiene kits and surgical material.

Security permitting, ICRC staff will visit various hospitals in the coming days to assess their needs.
Movement activities (Red Cross, Red Crescent and Magen David Adom)  

Over the past 24 hours, PRCS ambulances and medical teams were dispatched to 37 locations following air strikes. Meanwhile, PRCS blood transfusion services collected 700 blood units in the West Bank. The ICRC will be helping to transport them to Gaza.

PRCS emergency medical services are operating 45 ambulances in Gaza, staffed by 110 paramedics.

On the Egyptian side of the border in Rafah, the Egyptian Red Crescent Society is providing services to wounded people who have been evacuated and is facilitating the transfer of aid to the Gaza Strip.

In Israel, the Magen David Adom continues to react rapidly, providing first aid following rocket attacks. The National Society has also been organizing first aid training for teachers in areas of southern Israel hit by rockets fired from within the Gaza Strip. A course for 100 teachers took place on Wednesday.

For further information, please contact
  Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 25 90 or +41 79 251 93 18
  Anne-Sophie Bonefeld, ICRC Jerusalem, tel. +972 2 582 88 45 or +972 52 601 91 50
  Iyad Nasr, ICRC Gaza, tel. +972 59 960 30 15 (Arabic)
  Yael Segev-Eytan, ICRC Tel Aviv, tel. +972 3 524 52 86 or +972 52 275 75 17 (Hebrew)
  Nadia Dibsy, ICRC Jerusalem, tel. +972 5917900 or +972 52 601 91 48 (Arabic)