Wounded, dying cut off from medical aid, says Red Cross

Palestinians wounded in the fighting in the Gaza Strip are dying because ambulances can't reach them amid the fighting and shelling, the Red Cross warned. The number of wounded has topped 2,700 since the start of the Israeli offensive 11 days ago.


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AFP - People wounded in fighting in the Gaza Strip are dying because ambulances cannot reach them, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Monday.

"The situation is extremely dangerous and the coordination of ambulance services is very complex because of the incessant attacks and military operations," ICRC spokeswoman Dorothea Krimitsas said in Geneva.

"Wounded people have died while waiting for Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances," she added.

Palestinian women cry the death of relatives at Gaza City's al-Shifa hospital
Palestinian women mourn the deaths of relatives at Gaza City's al-Shifa hospital.
Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP


"In some other cases, ambulances cannot reach the wounded at all because of the ongoing fighting and shelling."

Some 555 Palestinians have now been killed and 2,700 wounded since the start of the Israeli offensive to halt Hamas rocket fire on December 27, the head of Gaza's emergency services said Monday.

The area's health services are under stress, with many health workers unable to reach their hospitals, and emergency rooms and intensive care units overwhelmed, according to the Red Cross.

At least two hospitals were out of fuel for their generators, the only source of power available, spokeswoman Krimitsas said.

The organisation was also concerned about water supplies in the densely populated coastal strip.

Krimitsas said two out of the 45 wells in the Gaza Strip were out of action after having been hit during Israeli air raids, while the pumps on eight others were no longer working because of power cuts.

"Half a million people, that's about one third of the population of the territory, are threatened with being completely deprived of water," she said.

Krimitsas said technicians needed to gain access to the electrical installations damaged during the fighting.

A team of four ICRC medical staff, including a surgeon, were allowed into the Gaza Strip from Israel on Monday after three days' delay, the relief agency said.

They are due to help staff at the territory's Shifa hospital carry out complex operations on the wounded. The medical team also brought in tetanus vaccines for children and blood supplies, Krimitsas said.

"Hospitals had completely run out of these vaccines, which are potentially lifesaving for patients with dirty wounds or needing an operation," she said.


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