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Palestinian Health Minister: 80 Percent of Health Centers in Gaza Have Shut Down

Neither northern Gaza nor Israel’s “humanitarian zone” in southern Gaza have functioning hospitals.

Two wounded children are seen with bandages on their heads after being brought to the Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital and treated following an Israeli attack hit the Maghazi Camp area in Deir Al Balah, Gaza, on May 11, 2024.

Over 80 percent of health care centers and hospitals in Gaza are no longer operational, the Palestinian Authority Health Minister said on Tuesday, a week into Israel’s escalation of its humanitarian aid blockade that is threatening to destroy every life-sustaining system in Gaza in the coming days and weeks.

The Gaza government has reported that there are no hospitals operating in northern Gaza after days of devastating attacks on the region, especially in Jabalia refugee camp. In southern Gaza, Israel’s intensifying military operations have driven Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) out of Rafah Indonesian Field Hospital, one of the only remaining health facilities in Rafah.

Health center closures are being driven by Israel’s intense shelling and artillery attacks as well as its near-total blockade on the entry of fuel and medical supplies into Gaza. Without fuel, not only are health centers unable to access electricity, they are also unable to receive supplies from humanitarian workers who rely on fuel for transportation.

The area that Israel has designated as a so-called humanitarian zone for Palestinians forced to leave Rafah has “no functioning medical infrastructure,” international watchdog group Forensic Architecture has reported.

If Israel’s blockade and shelling continue, the health system in Gaza will crumble completely, health workers and humanitarian groups have warned. MSF said that it has had to leave 12 health facilities in Gaza since October — nearly two per month — and that workers have faced 26 incidents of violence amid intense Israeli assaults.

The group says it has restarted activities at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis — the site of recently-discovered mass graves holding hundreds of bodies — after Israel’s military campaign there forced them to leave.

At the same time, Israel’s takeover of the Rafah crossing is blocking aid workers and humanitarian groups from transporting Palestinian patients who need emergency care outside of Gaza.

With Israel’s continued assault on the health care system, Palestinians who are injured by Israel’s relentless air strikes or who need care due to acute starvation and dehydration have fewer and fewer options.

Such attacks are occurring with frequency as, over the past week, Israeli forces have launched airstrikes and sent tanks into parts of northern, central and southern Gaza simultaneously.

In the north, Israel has launched a brutal offensive of Jabalia refugee camp, which Israeli forces have already attacked many times since October. On Tuesday, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor reported that Israeli forces stormed a UN school-turned-shelter housing hundreds of displaced families, with the military raiding six UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) schools in Jabalia alone.

Over the past day, Israeli forces have also launched an airstrike on a residential building in Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, killing at least 12 people, including children, and leaving others buried in the rubble.

Israel has been amassing enough troops on the edge of Rafah to launch a full-scale invasion, U.S. officials have said. At the same time, Israel has been bombarding eastern Rafah, where residents were forced to evacuate just days ago, and pushed tanks further and further into the city on Tuesday.

Israel’s genocide has killed 35,000 Palestinians so far, though the count is likely much higher due to Israel’s destruction of the Gaza health system and the thousands of people still missing under the rubble.

The UNRWA has estimated that 450,000 Palestinians have been forcibly displaced from Rafah since Israel began its evacuation orders of the area, meaning that roughly a quarter of Gaza’s population has been displaced over just the past week.

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