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Health workers in Gaza are 'scared' they'll be trapped in Israel's path

An injured Palestinian woman is wheeled into the al-Shifa hospital, following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, central Gaza Strip, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023.
An injured Palestinian woman is wheeled into the al-Shifa hospital, following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, central Gaza Strip, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023.AP Photo/Abed Khaled
  • Healthcare providers in Gaza fear Israel's continuing combat operations.

  • Israel's counteroffensive, following Hamas' attacks, has led to over 32,000 Palestinian deaths.

  • Despite shortages, Rafah's field hospital has accommodated nearly 30,000 patients since January.

Healthcare providers are fearful of what may happen if they come across Israeli troops as their combat operations expand to the crowded city where over half of Gaza's population has fled.

"We see a huge number of health workers being detained, sometimes completely from their families, their organization is unclear about their whereabouts," recalled Dr. Rik Peeperkorn, a World Health Organization representative for the West Bank and Gaza, during a Center for Strategic and International Studies event on Monday.

"A lot of health workers — specifically in the north, but all over — they're scared," he said. "They're scared to operate."

Peeperkorn has visited Gaza on numerous occasions since Israel ordered civilians to evacuate to the south, specifically to the city of Rafah, back in October. Many medical workers decided to stay in Northern Gaza as some patients could not be evacuated.

Israel's army invaded Gaza in the wake of Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists killed an estimated 1,200 Israelis. Since then, the Israeli counteroffensive has killed over 32,000 Palestinians in Gaza.

The Israeli Defense Force has made gains in northern Gaza, which has faced the greatest level of destruction during the conflict.

"What I've seen in Gaza, witnessed, that I think I hear from so many humanitarian workers, is, in that sense, unparallelled," Peeperkorn said.

Only 12 hospitals in Gaza are partially functional as of March.

Dr. Zawar Ali, who is the medical advisor for the IMC field hospital located in Rafah, established the hospital in the beginning of January. Since the hospital opened, Ali said it has taken in almost 30,000 patients.

Ali said the field hospital has faced numerous shortages from communication equipment to medical supplies.

"From a health perspective the needs are diverse," he said. "It's not just the trauma but also the noncommunicable diseases that have not been addressed because of the lack of medications."

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to pursue a ground offensive in Rafah, the city on Gaza's southwestern border where 1.4 million Palestinians have fled the fighting, against the White House's advisement.

Read the original article on Business Insider