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December 5, 2023

Doctors at ActionAid’s partner Al-Awda Hospital in the north of Gaza are continuing to deliver babies and save lives amid heavy bombing despite a desperate shortage of medical supplies. While the Israeli military is now pushing deeper into southern Gaza, its attacks on the north of the territory have not reduced – including around healthcare facilities, which are trying to help patients under hellish circumstances.

Dr. Ahmed Muhanna, manager of Al-Awda Hospital, told ActionAid in a voice note:

“In the vicinity of Al-Awda Hospital, throughout the night, there was targeting by [fighter] planes, and the artillery did not stop for a single moment throughout the night, which terrified the patients and staff [inside the] hospital.”

Two weeks ago, three medical workers were killed when the hospital was hit by bombing, and parts of the building were damaged. A few days later, facilities at the site were hit again.

Dr Ahmed said:

“We had previously been [hit] within the hospital. Two surgical departments [were] completely destroyed. [We lost] 50 beds out of 100, which doubled the burden on employees and medical teams [when] receiving and treating a large number of patients. We also already [face] problems and challenges in continuing [our services] as a result of [the] severe fuel shortage and the shortage of medicines and medical supplies.

The team [at] Al-Awda Hospital [have been] at work continuously for 55 days. We provide services every day to our people in the northern Gaza Strip and Gaza City, and specifically maternity services and orthopedic services. We are the only hospital that performs orthopedic operations, the repair of fractures, and complex orthopedic surgeries.”

Despite the monumental challenges they face, staff at the hospital have continued to provide life-saving care.

Hoda, a mother who has been displaced to a school, shared how staff had recently helped both of her daughters give birth. She said:

“I would like to thank Al-Awda Hospital, who came under the strikes at 11 at night to my daughter who was about to give birth in the street. If they were not there, she wouldn’t have survived. I thank my brother, the paramedic who came and picked her up, though there was a violent bombing. There was a nurse or doctor with him [also], and they rescued her and saved her [life]. They [brought] her here, and she gave birth.

She was displaced [at] a school, so she doesn’t have nappies, milk, bedding. She has no food or drink after giving birth. She needs food, and she needs clothes for the baby.

The other daughter who came today gave birth by Caesarean section, and we also thank Al-Awda Hospital. They stood by her side. She left the operating room an hour ago. But she is tired. She needs antibiotics and painkillers. She needs diapers for her son, milk, a blanket, a mattress, and food.”

Only four hospitals in the north of Gaza – including Al-Awda – are partially operating and admitting new patients, according to UNOCHA, while two others only offer dialysis for kidney patients. The Kamal Adwan hospital in the north has come under intensive shelling in recent days, with the director-general of the Gazan health ministry saying today that tanks and snipers had surrounded the hospital, where some 7,000 people are sheltering.

We are extremely concerned about the ongoing attacks around hospitals in Gaza, which severely impact the ability of doctors and patients to give and receive life-saving medical care. Tragically, at least 198 Palestinian medics have been killed in Gaza since October 7, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. Hospitals and health workers have protected status under international humanitarian law – this must be respected.

Riham Jafari, Coordinator of Advocacy and Communication for ActionAid Palestine, said:

“We are extremely concerned for the welfare and safety of our partners at Al-Awda Hospital. Their messages, when they are able to send them to us, paint a horrifying picture of the utterly unimaginable circumstances they are trying to work under. Doctors are carrying out cesarean sections against a deafening backdrop of falling bombs, while mothers who have just given birth without anesthetic are having to go without painkillers and antibiotics.

As horrific as the current situation is, without a ceasefire, it will only deteriorate further. Too many lives have already been lost, and the right of a whole population to safe and appropriate healthcare has been violated for too long. The only solution is a permanent ceasefire, now, so that medical supplies and other life-saving aid can enter Gaza at the levels required and health facilities can operate in safety.”


For media requests, please email or call 704 665 9743.

Spokespeople are available:

  • Niranjali Amerasinghe, Executive Director of ActionAid USA
  • Meredith Slater, Director of Development for ActionAid USA
  • Riham Jafari, Coordinator of Advocacy and Communication for ActionAid Palestine

About ActionAid   

ActionAid is a global federation working with more than 15 million people living in more than 40 of the world’s poorest countries. We want to see a just, fair, and sustainable world in which everybody enjoys the right to a life of dignity and freedom from poverty and oppression. We work to achieve social justice and gender equality and to eradicate poverty.  

Support Palestinians in crisis

As the human rights of people in the occupied Palestinian territories continue to be abused, women and children are especially at risk. Gaza faces a dire lack of medical facilities, schools, and homes, as so many have been hit by Israeli airstrikes. ActionAid works in communities near the border with Israel that have been most directly affected by the violence. ActionAid's women-led response is supporting the most vulnerable and marginalized individuals and communities.