International Committee of the Red Cross

Hospitals in Gaza handling influx of wounded against all odds

Photo gallery 27 April 2018

In the middle of the surgery, the operating theater went pitch dark. All you could see were two tiny monitors showing the patients' vital signs. When the light came back, powered by a generator, medics continued their work. They had a lot to do.

Almost 2,000 people were wounded and required urgent medical attention as violence escalated in the border area of Gaza, the past several weeks. When I spoke to doctors and nurses, physical and psychological fatigue showed. Some were saying that for them, the current crisis awakened the trauma of 2014 war. Others felt frustrated not to be able to do more for their patients.

Weakened by shortage of drugs and medical supplies, severe restrictions of movement, chronic energy crisis and worsening economic situation, Gaza's health sector is struggling to cope with the influx of wounded. Hospital staff face the difficult dilemma of prioritization. "Every day I have to make a decision - to discharge a patient or keep them in. Many of them live in poverty and I know that if I discharge them they will not get the care they need at home. If I keep them here, we may not have enough hospital beds," says Dr Ahmad, a surgeon at Gaza Indonesian Hospital.

Hospital personnel themselves know very well what it means to struggle economically. Some do not have the means to afford the cost of transportation to come to work.

Still, every Friday, the most tense day of the week, they are there - ready, calm and in control. They quickly assess each patient, comfort emotional relatives and keep going, against all odds.