Gaza update: Children killed by Israeli fire as healthcare continues to decline

This week, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)’s team in Gaza has reported on an increasingly tense situation and continued deterioration of healthcare there.

Update (22 February): MAP's team in Gaza have provided an additional update from the Health Cluster. Just 315,000 litres of fuel remains for hospitals in February, though funding from Qatar and UAE, when hopefully delivered in March, will be enough for 5-6 months. A donation from Qatar will procure 52 (of 516) essential drugs and 48 (of 853) medical disposables. There has been no additional procurement of cancer drugs (62% out of stock), primary healthcare drugs (54% out of stock) or immunology drugs (61% out of stock). Gaza hospitals and primary healthcare centres need USD$3.8 million monthly for drugs and disposables, or more than US$40 million per year. US$1.5 million is needed for spare parts and US$3 million to replace obsolete equipment at the Ministry of Health. The cleaners' strike is ongoing, with growing fears of the spread of infections in hospitals. Catering is currently only available in seven out of 14 hospitals.

On Saturday (17 February), two teenage boys (aged 15 and 17) were killed and at least two other children were injured in shelling by the Israeli military near the border fence. Investigations by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights found that the children were “unarmed civilians who did not carry out any act that would endanger the life of Israeli soldiers” and that the shelling “violate[d] the principle of distinction and military necessity, and use of force was unjustifiable.”

Israel also conducted air strikes in Gaza, following reports of rocket fire from Gaza and news that four Israeli soldiers were injured by an improvised explosive device close to the border.

This worrying escalation comes during the MAP-supported visit to Gaza by UK-based members of the Royal College of Surgeons. The groups is carrying out operations and training for local teams on basic surgical skills at Al Shifa Hospital. When airstrikes started on Saturday evening, the team were forced to cut short a training symposium wait for the security situation to improve.

Meanwhile, the deterioration of healthcare in Gaza continues. Gaza’s Central Drug Store said this week that they have not received any new shipments, indicating that the percentage of medicines with less than a month’s supply left or that have completely run out remains at or above 45%. Cleaning companies servicing Ministry of Health hospitals are continuing to strike over unpaid wages, meaning that hospitals like Al Shifa are still reliant on volunteers – who are not necessarily trained in infection control – to clean and keep vital units running.

Some international support has recently been pledged to Gaza. Qatar has pledged US$9 million of support, including US$2 million for medications and US$500k for emergency fuel. The rest will be spent on rehabilitation of houses, university fees for students and food parcels. As of Tuesday, however, no fuel had been received by the Ministry of Health and there was no change in the situation on the ground.

MAP is continuing to monitor and respond to this serious situation through our programmes, including the procurement of out-of-stock medicines. You can support this vital, life-saving work by clicking here:

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MAP is also calling on the UK Government to take action to save lives in Gaza. If you have not already done so, please email your MP and express your concern about Gaza’s humanitarian emergency by clicking here:

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