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Fuel shortages ‘catastrophic’ for devastated health services in Gaza: WHO

The World Health Organization chief has warned that a dire lack of fuel in the Gaza Strip could have a “catastrophic” impact on already devastated health services in the war-ravaged Palestinian territory.

Desperate fuel shortages have been a constant problem in the besieged Palestinian territory, facing intense Israeli bombardment since Hamas’s deadly October 7 attack inside Israel sparked the ongoing war.

“Further disruption to health services is imminent in Gaza due to a severe lack of fuel,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said late Thursday on X, formerly Twitter, AFP reports.

The UN health agency cautioned that only 90,000 litres of fuel entered Gaza on Wednesday — even as the health sector alone needs 80,000 litres daily.

This is forcing WHO and its partners working in Gaza “to make impossible choices”, Tedros said.

Gaza is completely sealed off and everything that enters it is controlled by the Israelis.

Fuel, which has been particularly difficult to get in amid Israeli fears it could benefit Hamas fighters, is vital to keep hospital generators running, as well as humanitarian and emergency vehicles.

WHO said that its partners were currently directing limited fuel supplies to “key hospitals”, including the Nasser Medical Complex and Al Amal Hospital in Khan Yunis and the Kuwaiti hospital in Rafah.

Fuel was also going to 21 ambulances run by the Palestinian Red Crescent “to prevent services from grinding to a halt”, Tedros said.

He pointed out that the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Yunis had been out of service since Tuesday, and warned that “losing more hospitals in the Strip would be catastrophic.”

Hamas’s October 7 attack that sparked Gaza’s deadliest war resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

Hamas also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom remain in Gaza including 42 the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 38,011 people, also mostly civilians, according to figures from the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.