A team of international doctors visiting a hospital in central Gaza was shocked by the devastating impact that Israel’s war against Hamas has had on Palestinian children. One toddler died from a brain injury caused by an Israeli strike, while his infant cousin is fighting for her life with part of her face blown off from the same attack. Another 10-year-old boy lost his parents in a strike and did not recognize his burnt sister beside him in the hospital. These heartbreaking casualties highlight the toll of the conflict on innocent children.

After nearly six months of war, Gaza’s health sector has been decimated. Many of Gaza’s hospitals are either partially functioning or completely shut down due to lack of supplies, fuel, or damage from fighting. Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital is caring for a large number of patients with limited resources, with the majority of its intensive care unit beds occupied by children. The hospital staff, already overwhelmed, are struggling to cope with the influx of patients and lack of supplies.

The visiting team of international doctors, including pediatric intensive-care doctor Tanya Haj-Hassan from Jordan, witnessed firsthand the strain the hospital is under due to the increasing number of patients. Many children are being treated in hallways or makeshift beds due to the overcrowding. The hospital, which had a capacity of 160 beds before the war, is now caring for around 800 patients with a limited number of staff able to come to work.

Thousands of people displaced by the war are living on the hospital grounds, seeking safety. While hospitals have special protections under international law, the constant threat of Israeli strikes has forced many to flee at times. Israel has alleged that hospitals are being used by Hamas for military purposes, but hasn’t provided substantial evidence. The ongoing bombardment and offensive in Gaza have resulted in thousands of casualties, overwhelming medical facilities and staff.

The war, triggered by Hamas attacks on Israel, has resulted in a high number of casualties and destruction in Gaza. Israel holds Hamas responsible for civilian deaths and injuries, claiming that militants operate from within civilian areas. The flow of aid into Gaza has been slowed down by complicated inspection procedures and continued fighting, leading to shortages in medical supplies and equipment. Haj-Hassan emphasizes that the only way to end Gaza’s health care crisis is to stop the war.

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