OPT: Gaza and West Bank - ICRC Bulletin No. 23 / 2007

Latest report on ICRC activities in the field

First group of critically injured patients evacuated to Israeli hospitals

Today the ICRC helped to evacuate six critically injured patients from Gaza to hospitals in Israel for urgently needed treatment not available in Gaza. So far the ICRC has identified about 50 other injured patients who may have to be evacuated in the near future. The ICRC also continues to work with Israeli and Palestinian authorities to arrange transfers for critically ill persons, such as renal and cancer patients, who require treatment outside Gaza.

According to figures provided to the ICRC by hospitals and other emergency services on Sunday, about 130 people were killed and 630 injured in last week's clashes in Gaza. About 500 have been treated in hospital. Since the end of the most acute fighting, five to ten people per day who were previously in hiding have gone to hospitals for treatment.

Gaza hospitals in urgent need of help

"In addition to the stress imposed by the large number of patients over recent days and the long working hours, hospital staff are becoming increasingly frustrated about medical equipment breaking down. Due to the suspension of funds to the Palestinian Authority, it has often not been possible to maintain or replace medical equipment during the past year," says Eileen Daly the ICRC's Health Coordinator for the West Bank and Gaza. "We will bring in surgical gowns and drapes. Many washing machines and some sterilisation equipment (auto-claves) have broken down. We have even provided household washing machines as a short-term replacement for broken-down industrial machines in some hospitals."

To respond to the crisis, the ICRC has been providing medical supplies to hospitals and other heath-care facilities in Gaza. Access to Gaza remains restricted at all entry points from Israel, but an ICRC vehicle carrying anaesthesia drugs and pain killers crossed into Gaza this afternoon. The ICRC is also sending into Gaza 250 bottles of halothane, which is used to produce anaesthetic gas.

Over the last few days, the organization had already provided Gaza hospitals with a selection of essential drugs and equipment including antibiotics and anaesthetics, suture material, chest drains, surgical drugs. The ICRC is also organizing the delivery of additional surgical sets including specialized instruments and badly needed material such as external fixators. To help patients, the ICRC has also been providing drinking water and food parcels to two hospitals.

Clean-up effort underway

Local hospitals and the Ministry of Health in Gaza have been cleaning up and repairing buildings and other facilities, particularly water supply systems. The ICRC has helped organize these activities and has offered further assistance if required.

"The ICRC is working with hospitals and the authorities to find needed spare parts in Gaza if possible. Otherwise we will bring them in from outside. The Ministry of Health in Gaza is resuming its role of coordinating activities after the events of last week, and we are working closely with them, providing what assistance we can," says Daly. "Hospital staff appreciate the fact that we were present even during the fighting last week, and that we were able to deliver material to them on a daily basis. They tell us that apart from that they felt abandoned by the outside world".

For further information, please contact:

Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel +41 22 730 25 90 or +41 79 251 93 18

Bernard Barrett, ICRC Jerusalem, tel +972 2 582 88 45 or +972 52 601 91 50

Bana Sayeh, ICRC Jerusalem, tel +972 2 582 88 45 or +972 52 601 91 48

Iyad Nasr, ICRC Gaza, tel +972 8 282 2644 +972 59 960 30 15

Yael Segev-Eytan, ICRC Tel Aviv, tel +972 3 524 52 86 or +972 52 275 75 17

or visit our website: www.icrc.org