Middle East

“Gaza’s death toll keeps climbing as rights chief demands end to the suffering”

Nearly 10,000 women have been killed in Gaza since war erupted six months ago and one child is injured or dies every 10 minutes, UN agencies warned on Tuesday, amid spiralling violence in the West Bank and concerns over a regional escalation of the conflict following Iran’s missile and drone strike on Israel. 

Echoing new dire assessments of the catastrophic situation in the devastated enclave, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) issued a new ceasefire call so that humanitarian relief can be brought into Gaza to help rebuild hospitals including Al Shifa, which has been “basically destroyed” after a recent Israeli incursion. 
“The management is trying to get the emergency department cleaned (but) the work is just enormous to get just a cleaning done, let alone to get supplies,” said WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic, following a new UN health agency mission to the devastated medical facility in Gaza City on Monday. 

Little left to salvage

Only a third of Gaza’s 36 hospitals remain functional meaning that it is essential to “preserve what is left” of the enclave’s health system, Mr. Jasarevic insisted. 

But needs remain massive with more than 76,000 people injured, according to the local authorities, and several UN agencies have repeatedly warned that amputations and C-section births have gone ahead without anaesthetic.

“Once again we’re calling really for the deconfliction mechanism to be effective, to be transparent and to be workable,” the WHO officer said, referring to the approvals system used by humanitarians in conjunction with the warring parties to try to ensure that aid convoys are not targeted. 

Concerns remain over the deconfliction protocol after seven aid workers from the NGO World Central Kitchen were killed in Israeli airstrikes on 1 April.

But “more than half” of planned WHO missions between last October and the end of March “have been either denied or delayed or face other obstacles so they have to be postponed, so we really need that access”, Mr. Jasarevic insisted, amid repeated dire warnings from humanitarians about impending famine in Gaza.

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No relief for injured

A lack of staff, needles, stitches and other essential medical equipment have meant that “injured children often languish in pain,” in hospitals or in makeshift shelters, noted Tess Ingram, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Communication specialist. 

Speaking from Cairo after her latest mission to northern Gaza where her UN vehicle came under attack, Ms. Ingram told journalists that it was notable just how many youngsters had been injured during intense Israeli bombardment, launched in response to Hamas-led terror attacks in southern Israel on 7 October.

“Imagine for a second being strip-searched naked and questioned for hours, told that you’re safe and then you leave; you quickly walk down the street praying that you will be okay. But then you’re shot at, your father is killed and a bullet penetrates your naked pelvis causing serious internal and external injuries that are going to require reconstructive surgery. At a field hospital Younis told me this happened to him. He is 14.”

The UNICEF officer also highlighted how difficult it remains to evacuate desperately injured or sick patients for medical care outside Gaza. Less than half of all “medivac” requests have been approved meaning that only around 4,500 people – “most of them children” – have been able to leave Gaza at a rate of less than 20 a day.

Rights chief’s call

Highlighting the plight of those in Gaza, UN human rights chief Volker Türk on Monday urged “all States with influence” to halt the “increasingly horrific human rights and humanitarian crisis” unfolding there.

Israel continues to impose unlawful restrictions on the entry and distribution of humanitarian assistance and to carry out widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure,” the High Commissioner for Human Rights maintained, before repeating calls for an immediate ceasefire and the release of all remaining hostages.

West Bank spiralling

The High Commissioner for Human Rights also expressed deep concern about rising violence and “waves of attacks” in recent days against Palestinians in the West Bank “by hundreds of Israeli settlers, often accompanied or supported by Israeli Security Forces (ISF)”. 

Following the killing of a 14-year-old Israeli boy from a settler family, four Palestinians, including a child, were killed and Palestinian property was destroyed in revenge attacks, Mr. Türk said in a statement.

Citing information received by his office, OHCHR, the UN rights chief reported that armed settlers and Israeli forces entered “a number of towns” including Al Mughayyer, Beitin village in Ramallah, Duma and Qusra in Nablus, as well as the Bethlehem and Hebron Governorates. 

Dozens of Palestinians were reportedly injured in the ensuing violence “and hundreds of homes and other buildings, as well as cars, were torched”, the High Commissioner said, before insisting that “neither Palestinians nor Israelis should take the law into their own hands to exact revenge”.



  1. It is heartbreaking to read about the devastating situation in Gaza. The urgent need for a ceasefire cannot be overstated. Action must be taken to bring in humanitarian relief and rebuild essential facilities like Al Shifa hospital. We cannot ignore the suffering of innocent civilians, especially women and children who are bearing the brunt of this conflict.

  2. My heart breaks reading about the devastating situation in Gaza. It’s heartbreaking to see the toll on women and children. Immediate humanitarian relief and a ceasefire are urgently needed to prevent further suffering and rebuild what’s left of the health system.

  3. It is heartbreaking to see the devastating impact of the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Urgent action is needed to bring in humanitarian relief and rebuild the destroyed hospitals. My thoughts are with the innocent women and children who are suffering every day.

  4. It’s heartbreaking to see the continuous suffering in Gaza. Urgent action is needed to end the violence and provide essential humanitarian aid. My thoughts are with all those affected by this devastating conflict.

  5. Are there any specific plans in place to ensure the safety and well-being of the women and children in Gaza amidst this ongoing crisis?

    1. There must be urgent action taken to protect the women and children in Gaza during this relentless crisis. Safety measures need to be implemented swiftly to prevent further harm and suffering.

  6. It is heart-wrenching to hear about the escalating violence in Gaza. The statistics on the number of women and children affected are devastating. The urgent need for a ceasefire and humanitarian aid cannot be emphasized enough to prevent further suffering and loss of life.

  7. It’s heartbreaking to see the continuous rise in the death toll and the suffering of innocent civilians in Gaza. The urgent need for a ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to reach those in need cannot be overstated. The international community must come together to bring an end to this senseless violence and prevent further tragedy.

  8. It’s heartbreaking to see the escalating death toll in Gaza. The international community must take immediate action to end the suffering of innocent civilians. The urgent need for humanitarian aid and ceasefire cannot be ignored. My thoughts are with the people of Gaza during these difficult times.

  9. It’s devastating to see the escalating death toll in Gaza, especially the high number of women and children affected. Urgent action is needed to end the suffering and provide essential humanitarian relief to rebuild the shattered hospitals and help the injured.

  10. It’s heartbreaking to see the continuous rise in casualties in Gaza. The urgent call for a ceasefire by the WHO is crucial to bring in much-needed relief and aid. The dire situation demands immediate international attention and action to prevent further suffering.

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