December 22, 2023 Israel-Hamas war

By Tara Subramaniam, Aditi Sangal, Jack Guy, Adrienne Vogt, Elise Hammond, Matt Meyer and Chris Lau, CNN

Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT) December 23, 2023
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11:45 p.m. ET, December 21, 2023

No functional hospitals left in northern Gaza, WHO says

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

Northern Gaza no longer has a functioning hospital, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday, detailing "unbearable" scenes teams observed during a recent mission. 

"There are actually no functional hospitals left in the north," Richard Peeperkorn, WHO representative in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, told a press briefing. 

According to Peeperkorn, the last functioning hospital in northern Gaza was Al-Ahli Hospital but fuel, power, medical supply and staffing shortages have rendered it "minimally functional." 

"Now Al-Ahli is a shell of a hospital... It completely stopped functioning and is only operating as hospice currently with no to very little care."

Of 36 hospitals in Gaza, only nine located in the south are functioning, Peeperkorn said.

The WHO representative spoke to journalists in the wake of WHO missions carried out in recent days to Al-Ahli and Al-Shifa Hospital, located in Gaza City. 

Sean Casey, who led the missions, recounted the "unbearable" scenes WHO workers witnessed at a church in the Al-Ahli compound that had been converted into a makeshift ward.

"A church with 30 or so patients, almost none of them ambulatory. So bedridden patients, some of them with serious trauma wounds... We saw many patients who had said they hadn't bathed or changed their clothes in weeks," Casey said.

"Patients were crying out in pain but they were also crying out for us to give them water. It's pretty unbearable to see somebody with you know, casts on multiple limbs, external fixators on multiple limbs who are just asking for drinking water."

Casey said describing Al-Ahli as a hospice implied a "level of care" that the five doctors and five nurses working there are "simply unable to provide" in light of the virtually non-existent resources.

He said Al-Ahli is rather now a "place where people are waiting to die" unless they can be moved to a "safer location" capable of providing care.