Wounded Palestinians lie on beds as Gaza’s overwhelmed Al Aqsa hospital struggles to treat the injured.—Reuters
Wounded Palestinians lie on beds as Gaza’s overwhelmed Al Aqsa hospital struggles to treat the injured.—Reuters

DEIR BALAH: Hazem Farjallah wails as he lies in the Gaza hospital corridor, his head bandaged and his aunt by his side, days after he was injured by Israeli bombardment and with little prospect of adequate medical care.

Hazem, 10, has not spoken since he was injured in Thursday’s strike on a UN school being used as a shelter and the shrapnel wounds are visible on his back, chest and head.

“He’s been lying on the ground for days. He’s supposed to be in the intensive care unit. There are no mattresses,” said his aunt, Umm Nasser in a video obtained by Reuters. Hazem is now in a bed but had to manage on the floor until Monday.

His plight shows the dire condition of Gaza’s damaged, under equipped and understaffed hospitals eight months into Israel’s military campaign.

Collapse of health system in the face of massive Israeli bombardment has complicated a host of disasters, from hunger to spreading disease

The collapse in Gaza’s health system in the face of massive Israeli bombardment has complicated a host of other unfolding disasters, from the hunger crisis to spreading disease.

It has left those with chronic conditions unable to access basic care. But the war has also brought sudden influxes of badly injured people to the few remaining hospitals even as they struggle to access medical supplies, overwhelming doctors and nurses coping with restricted space and terrible injuries.

In Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, where Hazem is lying injured, there are not even enough stands to hold up IV drips. Hazem’s aunt said she had had to hold up the packet of medicine so it would flow.

Other injured people in the hospital made the same observation and some could be seen lying with a friend or relative holding aloft the medicine pack.

“We placed the injured along the internal corridors and in between beds. There is no room at all inside this hospital for the injured. We had them sleep in external tents,” said Doctor Khalil al-Dakran of al-Aqsa hospital.

There were now four or five times more injured people at the hospital than there were beds for them to use, he said.

Life-changing injuries

Some of the injured are in critical condition. Raed Abu Youssef’s four-year-old son Tawfik was hit in the head with shrapnel during Israel’s bombardment of Nuseirat refugee camp on Saturday during the operation to rescue hostages.

He was taken to hospital but was so badly injured that rescuers could not find a pulse and the family believed he had died.

Abu Youssef was actually digging the child’s grave when he heard news Tawfik was still alive in al-Aqsa hospital.

However, his injuries still threaten his life and will certainly change it.

“It’s good we were able to save his life but we can’t do more. He would definitely need closer follow up. Part of his brain will be lost,” said surgeon Omar Abu Taqia.

“He definitely needs to travel because the resources are limited,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2024

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