Skip to main content

Medical crisis in Gaza as conflict endures

By Mariano Castillo and Kareem Khadder, CNN
updated 8:12 PM EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Hamas security sources: Islamic Jihad militants killed in Israeli airstrike
  • At least 100 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Monday, officials say
  • Medical sources compare the crisis in Gaza hospitals to that in Syria during its civil war
  • Israel says all options remain on the table, says that Hamas must stop attacking Israel

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Patients being treated on the floor, because emergency rooms are overcrowded, medical sources say. Medicines running low. And, according to a Health Ministry spokesman, fuel shortages such that only half the available ambulances can run and the generators powering lights in hospitals might only last a few more days.

Sources there say that is the reality nowadays in Gaza, a dire situation that looks like it will persist or perhaps get worse -- since neither Hamas nor Israel's government have shown any indication of backing down.

Rockets being fired from Gaza into Israel are menacing and can be dangerous. Case in point came Friday, when a woman was hurt after a rocket hit a house in Be'er Sheva, according to Israel's military.

Map of the Middle East  Map of the Middle East
Map of the Middle EastMap of the Middle East

Every day, there are more such attacks, each one potentially lethal. Earlier Friday, for instance, Israel Defense Forces reported that two soldiers were lightly wounded in an attack by an anti-tank missile.

Hamas denies targeting Israeli civilians

Hostilities between the two sides picked up weeks ago -- tensions that were exacerbated by the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers.

IDF: Rocket fired from Lebanon

There's a disparity in the human toll in the latest fighting.

No Israelis have been killed so far by the hundreds of rockets fired toward southern Israel by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant groups in Gaza. Some Israelis have been wounded.

More than 100 people -- including at least 23 children and 24 women -- have been killed and nearly 800 others have been injured in Gaza from Israeli strikes, according to Dr. Ashraf Al-Qidra, the spokesman for Gaza's health ministry. The toll kept rising Saturday, after an Israeli strike in Jabalya in northern Gaza that Hamas security sources said killed members of the Islamic Jihad militant group.

CNN anchor flees for safety in Israel

Those places where the injured are being treated aren't necessarily safe havens, either: Al-Qidra told CNN that at least one hospital in Gaza was shelled.

Palestinians: At least 81 killed in Gaza

The medical sources who described the overcrowded emergency rooms in Gaza and dwindling supply of medicine characterized what is happening there as not unlike the chaos witnessed at Syrian hospitals during its civil war.

Gaza: Living life under fire

And even those not in hospitals or who haven't been impacted directly by airstrikes face significant challenges.

Is U.S. responsible for latest violence?

CNN staff in Gaza reported there are rolling blackouts, and there are water shortages in some areas because airstrikes have damaged pumping stations.

Negotiator: 'We need to restore sanity'

Israeli authorities insist that they want peace, and that they are striking back in order to defend their territory. As things stand, they contend, doing nothing is not a valid option.

To that point, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated Friday that there is one path to a cease-fire: the cessation of attacks from Gaza.

Observers wonder whether Israel will escalate its defense with even more offense -- by sending troops into Gaza. Nothing is off the table, Netanyahu said.

"We are considering all options and getting ready for every possible scenario," he said. "All the citizens of Israel are aware of my major goal, and this is to bring back the quiet to all Israeli territories. Hamas keeps attacking us, and therefore we are fighting them back."

Rocket from Lebanon

Israel faced attack from a second front Friday, but it is unlikely that a rocket fired from Lebanon signifies the widening of the conflict with Hamas.

The rocket launched from Lebanon landed near the northern Israeli town of Metula, which sits right by the Lebanese border, and no damage or injuries have been reported. It was not immediately clear who fired the rocket.

An IDF spokesman said Israel holds the Lebanese government responsible for the attack, but concerns that Israel will face a two-front conflict are unlikely to be realized.

Hezbollah, which operates in Lebanon and is caught up in other conflicts in the region, probably does not have the appetite to start a war with Israel.

Thousands of rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel during a war in 2006, but rocket attacks since then have been sporadic. Tensions are always high between Hezbollah and Israel, but Hezbollah's involvement in Syria's civil war means that a fight with Israel might not make sense.

Nonetheless, Israel responded with artillery that landed in the vicinity of the Lebanese town of Kfar Shouba. No casualties were reported, the Lebanese army said.

Israel calls up reservists

As fears of an Israeli ground assault grew among Gaza residents Thursday, Israel revealed it has beefed up its forces by calling about 30,000 reservists to their units.

"We are utilizing that force to enable us to create a substantial force around Gaza, that if it is required, we'll be able to mobilize as soon as possible," Israel Defense Forces spokesman Peter Lerner told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

The Israeli Cabinet has authorized the military to call up 40,000 troops if needed. That is 10,000 more than were called up during Israel's offensive into Gaza in November 2012.

The Israel Defense Forces said Friday that since the start of Operation Protective Edge, more than 570 rockets have been fired at Israel. The country's Iron Dome defense system has intercepted more than 100 of them, the IDF said.

Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza are believed to have about 10,000 rockets of varying ranges, according to the Israeli military. Israel has said some 3.5 million residents live in areas within reach of the rockets.

U.S. willing to help broker cease-fire

Hopes for a cease-fire appeared dim even as world leaders called for the two sides to stop the violence.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Netanyahu spoke by phone.

"The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 cease-fire agreement," the White House said in a written statement, referring to the Egyptian-brokered deal that halted the previous Israel-Hamas conflict.

The President also condemned rocket attacks from Gaza and said the United States reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself.

From Samson and Delilah to Israeli-Palestinian fighting

Flare-up in Israeli-Palestinian violence: Why now?

Has the Middle East crisis reached a tipping point?

Was teen's death a revenge killing?

CNN's Kareem Khadder reported from Jerusalem, Mariano Castillo wrote this report in Atlanta, and CNN's Ben Wedeman reported from Gaza City. CNN's Greg Botelho, Jon Jensen, Aliza Kassim, Diana Magnay, Tal Heinrich, Amir Tal and Talal Abu Rahma contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
Tensions in the Middle East
Here's a look at some of the most serious conflicts involving Israel and its neighbors -- conflicts that have spanned more than six decades.
updated 11:17 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
A video released by ISIS shows the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley and threatens the life of another American if President Obama doesn't end military operations in Iraq.
updated 5:04 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
19-year-old Udi Segal explains why he won't join his country's military.
updated 8:28 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
The sights at the Gaza zoo couldn't be sadder, after it was nearly destroyed during recent Israel-Hamas conflict.
updated 12:11 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Both Hamas and Israel have chosen conflict over real peace negotiations again and again in the past, writes Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann.
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Mohammed Najib says Hamas' objectives also include ending its political isolation.
updated 6:07 PM EDT, Fri August 8, 2014
With so many conflicts, on so many fronts, here's a quick look at what's happening.
updated 10:29 AM EDT, Sat July 5, 2014
Alan Elsner: How Israel reacts will be decisive turning point for both Israelis and Palestinians.
updated 4:59 PM EDT, Fri August 8, 2014
The Israel-Gaza conflict impacts families on both sides. Karl Penhaul speaks to the family of a militant killed in Gaza.
updated 9:41 PM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
A sense of Egypt's historic role and the traditional animosity of their military toward Islamist radicalism have propelled Egypt to take a central role in the on-off cease-fire talks.
updated 5:50 PM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
If the Gaza truce holds and Israel's Operation Protective Edge comes to its conclusion, some things are certain.
updated 12:26 PM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
CNN's Tim Lister says, to secure peace, Israel needs to offer Gazans a better future.
updated 4:35 PM EDT, Tue August 5, 2014
Tensions between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been strained for years.
updated 9:16 AM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
Images from the conflict between Israel and Hamas depict apparent civilians, caught in the middle.
updated 9:06 AM EDT, Tue August 5, 2014
Hamas must be tamed through politics, not the failed strategy of war, argues Ed Husain.
updated 9:55 AM EDT, Mon August 4, 2014
It may have started as a TV debate about the Israel-Hamas conflict, but it's now turned into an online war of words.
updated 2:20 PM EDT, Mon August 4, 2014
Hamas' political leader, who lives in Qatar, sits down with CNN for an exclusive interview.
updated 6:43 AM EDT, Mon August 4, 2014
Nafoz Mohammed is living in a cramped two-room apartment with 16 other people, hours holed up in fear.
updated 12:54 AM EDT, Sun August 3, 2014
Karl Penhaul visits a destroyed section of Gaza and learns how the bombing has affected one student's aspirations.
updated 2:15 AM EDT, Fri August 1, 2014
The birth of a child is normally a joyous occasion, but it is tinged by sadness and anxiety in Gaza. Ian Lee reports.
updated 1:24 PM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Amid the Gaza conflict, experts try to figure out who's in charge of "the resistance."
updated 6:10 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The opening was so small that CNN's Wolf Blitzer -- no physical giant -- had to bend down to climb inside.
Follow CNNArabic for the latest news and analysis from the Middle East and rest of the world.
ADVERTISEMENT