November 2, 2023

“If fuel runs out in Gaza, it will be an unimaginable catastrophe for babies on incubators and those in intensive care units relying on ventilators.”

Hospitals in Gaza are reaching breaking point as their supply of fuel runs dangerously low, putting the lives of newborn babies in incubators at grave risk. On Wednesday night, the main generator at the Indonesian hospital – one of the main hospitals in the north of the territory – went out of service. Staff are now having to rely on a secondary generator, which can service only some parts of the hospital, as they continue to receive an influx of patients from the nearby Jabalia refugee camp, where bombings on Tuesday and Wednesday killed at least 195 people.

Bisan, a youth volunteer with ActionAid in Gaza, shared this message from Al-Shifa Hospital – the largest medical facility in Gaza:

“I’m now at the Al-Shifa Hospital, in the incubator department. The incubator department, as [with] all the departments in Al-Shifa Hospital, and other hospitals as well, are [under threat of] stopping working because there is no fuel in The Gaza Strip. There is no fuel entering the Gaza Strip or going to the hospitals. So, more than 45 incubators just in Al-Shifa Hospital could stop. And these newborn babies could simply [die]… Because they need special care.”

As well as treating the wounded, hospitals in northern Gaza are acting as places of shelter for around 117,000 thousand people who have been displaced from their homes since the war began. But without food and water, fuel to cook with, clothes, or hygiene products, conditions are becoming unbearable. With only a severely limited amount of aid trickling into Gaza through the Rafah border crossing, and no way of transporting this north due to a lack of fuel and damaged roads, there is little hope of relief for millions of people in Gaza.

As people fight to survive in these conditions, the areas surrounding hospitals continue to be hit by bombing, severely hampering the ability of the medical facilities to continue functioning. At least 73 healthcare workers have been killed in Gaza since October 7. Many were killed while asleep at night at home with their families, in between working shifts. As the number of patients needing urgent treatment continues to rise, the Palestinian Health Ministry has issued a desperate plea urging any retired doctors, nurses, or medical students to help if they can.

Riham Jafari, Communications and Advocacy Coordinator at ActionAid Palestine, said:

“If fuel runs out in Gaza, it will be an unimaginable catastrophe for babies on incubators and those in intensive care units relying on ventilators. Instead of being a place where people needing urgent care are treated, hospitals have become a place where patients are sent to morgues rather than discharged.

But despite the enormous and impossible challenges, doctors are continuing to provide urgent care amidst indiscriminate bombings, a severe shortage of medical supplies, medical equipment, and fuel to power generators. And even when doctors leave hospitals to find precious resources to help keep hospitals going and to keep people alive, they are at risk of being killed in the constant bombardment.”

The situation in Gaza’s hospitals is critical. ActionAid is seriously concerned about our partners and their ability to provide the lifesaving urgent care and shelter needed for so many people in Gaza who have faced near-constant bombing for the last 21 days.

Bisan said:

“People are suffering. The bombing is targeting refugee camps and places that are the most crowded places in the world. The Gaza Strip is about 360 square kilometers, with a population of more than 2.25 million people. Can you imagine how crowded this is? So, this is the demand now: [a] ceasefire in Gaza. Ceasefire because the explosive force of the bombs [that] were dropped on Gaza during these days is more than the explosive force of Hiroshima nuclear bomb. Ceasefire now.”

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

The following spokespeople are available:

  • Riham Jafari, Coordinator of Advocacy and Communication for ActionAid Palestine
  • Soraida Hussein-Sabbah, Gender and Advocacy Specialist at Alianza por la Solidaridad (ActionAid in Spain), is currently in Ramallah.

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.