Al-Awda Hospital in Gaza besieged again by Israeli forces

Israeli forces besiege Al-Awda Hospital in Jabaliya as more Palestinian health workers killed in West Bank

May 21, 2024 by Ana Vračar
Source: Awda Health and Community Association

Al-Awda Hospital in Jabaliya, northern Gaza, is once again under siege by Israeli armed forces. Since Sunday, May 19, those inside the hospital have been unable to move, and patients trying to reach the facility have been prevented from doing so by Israeli snipers targeting hospital floors and artillery directed at the hospital’s administration department.

As of the latest reports, nearly 150 health workers and volunteers are trapped inside the hospital, including 97 medical staff members. Mohammad Salha, Al-Awda’s acting director, stated that the siege has effectively blocked movement to and from the hospital. “The ambulances were unable to [leave] the hospital to bring the injured from the field. Al-Awda is the only hospital that provides orthopedic surgery services, and 80% of the injuries are bone injuries and require orthopedic interventions,” he said.

The hospital in Jabaliya has been besieged before and has faced continuous attacks from the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF). Overall, the Awda Health and Community Association has lost 14 workers to Israeli attacks since October 7, 2023. According to the association’s estimates, during the previous siege of Al-Awda Jabaliya Hospital in Jabaliya, seven workers have been killed, 12 more injured, and four arrested, including the hospital director Ahmed Muhanna.

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Despite the violence and temporary service shutdowns due to supply and energy shortages, Al-Awda has managed to resume some operations over the past months and provide orthopedic services, which are crucial in the context of injuries sustained in Gaza due to IOF attacks. The hospital is also the only institution in northern Gaza currently providing maternity care. Since October 7, Al-Awda staff have performed 1,949 C-sections and assisted 6,380 standard deliveries. These services are now under threat again due to the recent attacks.

According to Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the hospital has run out of drinking water and is surrounded by tanks. Fears have grown as the Israeli attacks on Jabalia intensify. Similarly, concerns are growing at Kamal Adwan Hospital, also in northern Gaza, which has been forced to scale down and intermittently cease operations due to the attacks.

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Meanwhile, the United Nations reported a surge in malnutrition and communicable diseases in Gaza, particularly in the southern regions, as tens of thousands of people have been forcibly displaced to areas lacking food, water, and other basic necessities. Acute medication shortages are widespread, with the Palestinian Ministry of Health warning that many health facilities now have zero stocks. Medical evacuations have not been possible since May 7, when Israel shut down the Rafah crossing.

Attacks on healthcare continue in other parts of occupied Palestine. On the morning of May 21, during a scaled-up attack on Jenin in the West Bank, Israeli forces shot dead Usaid Kamal Jabarin, a surgeon at the local hospital. The IOF killed at least six more people during the same attack, including students and a teacher – with the violence expected to continue.

People’s Health Dispatch is a fortnightly bulletin published by the People’s Health Movement and Peoples Dispatch. For more articles and subscription to People’s Health Dispatch, click here.