War between Israel and Hamas, airstrikes in Gaza, Blinken visit

The World Health Organization has stressed that it “cannot afford” to lose the remaining operational hospitals in southern Gaza, warning that the enclave’s health sector is collapsing at a “rapid pace.”

As Israeli calls for evacuations continue to push people south of the strip, the WHO said it has strained the region’s already overstretched facilities. Hospitals in the region are now “packed with patients” and internally displaced people, WHO emergency medical team coordinator Sean Casey said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Only 13 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are partially functioning and bed occupancy is 351%, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah.

Casey, who has carried out several WHO missions to Gaza hospitals, described the “escalation of hostilities” around the European Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis as “really worrying.”

“We cannot lose health facilities. It is absolutely necessary to protect them. This is the last line of secondary and tertiary health care that Gaza has from north to south,” Casey stressed.

Richard Peeperkorn, WHO representative in the occupied Palestinian territory, also said at the briefing: “We cannot afford to lose any hospitals.”

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