[first estimate 243 Palestinians killed – 8,538 injured] UN: Gaza has significant trauma, medical needs

Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip (Khalil Hamra - AP)

AP  /  May 21, 2021

GENEVA –  The World Health Organization has tallied “significant trauma needs” in Palestinian areas, where at least 243 people have been killed during 11 days of fighting between Palestinians and Israelis.

WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said a total of 8,538 people had been injured across Palestinian areas during the violence, and 30 health facilities in Gaza had been damaged — with one clinic fully destroyed and another sustaining significant damage. She said damage to infrastructure was impeding the access of ambulances.

The comments to a U.N. briefing in Geneva came as humanitarian aid workers assessed the fallout from the latest fighting between Hamas militant fighters and Israeli forces.

Fabrizio Carboni, regional director for the Near and Middle East at the International Committee of the Red Cross, estimated there were “several hundred” pieces of unexploded ordnance strewn about in Gaza and said medical supplies were a pressing need.

Matthias Schmale, Gaza director for UNRWA, the UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees, cited a “window” of several hours on Friday during which aid and supplies could be brought in through the Kerem Shalom crossing point into Gaza. Speaking by video from Gaza City, he noted that a central laboratory that carries out testing for COVID-19 had been “made dysfunctional by a massive bomb explosion.”

Alluding to a cease-fire that took effect overnight, he said it “feels like a fragile cease fire” and lamented the “unbearable and unacceptable cost this has had for the civilian population. And I know that applies to people in Israel, too.”