War in Gaza: attack on Rafah could turn into “massacre”

Война в Газе: нападение на Рафах может обернуться «бойней»

Small children stand outside a temporary shelter in Rafah. War in Gaza: attack on Rafah could turn into “massacre” Peace and Security

Israel’s military operation in Rafah could turn into a “massacre” and undermine humanitarian work to save lives throughout the Gaza Strip. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned about this on Friday.

“Any ground operation would mean more suffering and death” for the 1.2 million displaced Palestinians sheltering in and around the strip’s southernmost city, OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke told reporters in Geneva.

The “band-aid” will not save

The UN World Health Organization (WHO), in turn, stated that in the event of a full-scale military invasion Concrete humanitarian action plans have been developed, but these measures will not be enough to prevent the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza from worsening.

“All these contingency plans are like putting a Band-Aid on a huge wound. They will not be able to prevent the expected additional deaths and increases in morbidity,” said Dr. Rick Pieperkorn, WHO Representative for the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

All these contingency plans are like a Band-Aid that we’re going to put on a huge wound

Speaking via video link from Jerusalem, Pieperkorn warned that the military operation would cause a new wave of displacement, increase overcrowding, reduce access to basic food, water and sanitation services, and increase the number of disease outbreaks.

“Gaza’s extremely weakened health system will not be able to withstand the potential scale of tragedy that an invasion will cause,” Dr. Pieperkorn stressed.

The deteriorating security situation could also seriously hamper food supplies , water and medicine into Gaza through border crossings, a WHO official noted.

After nearly seven months of intense Israeli bombing following a Hamas attack on southern Israel, the UN health agency said 7 October, only 12 of 36 hospitals in Gaza and 22 of 88 primary health care facilities are “partially operational.” 

Dialysis under threat

Health facilities still operating include Najar Hospital in Rafah, where hundreds of people are receiving dialysis treatment, explained Dr Ahmed Dahir, WHO team leader in Gaza: “If there is a new a military operation that prevents the public and patients from entering this hospital would be a disaster.”

Despite “slight improvement” in food availability and variety in Gaza in recent weeks, Dr Pieperkorn dismissed any suggestion that the looming threat of acute malnutrition had receded for the enclave’s most vulnerable populations. According to reports, 30 children have already died from malnutrition-related illnesses in Gaza.

As part of the UN emergency response, the World Health Organization and partners are opening a new field hospital in Rafah.  


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