When Gaza’s Indonesian Hospital received a sudden influx of patients badly injured by Israeli bombing on Tuesday, medics set up an operating room in a corridor because the main surgical theatres were full, they said.
Juggling dwindling supplies of medicines, power cuts and air or artillery strikes that shake hospital buildings, surgeons in Gaza work through the night trying to save a constant stream of patients.
“We take it an hour at a time because we don’t know when we will be receiving patients. Several times we’ve had to set up surgical spaces in the corridors and even sometimes in the hospital waiting areas,” said Doctor Mohammed al-Run.
He was speaking soon after bombardment damaged the Indonesian Hospital near the frontlines where Israel’s military is pushing into the tiny, crowded Palestinian enclave, and with fuel supply for its generators about to run out, according to doctors.
Israeli tanks have entered Gaza, home to 2.3 million people, after three weeks of intense bombing that has smashed entire districts in response to an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants who killed 1,400 people in southern Israel and grabbed 240 hostages.
Health authorities in the Hamas-run enclave say more than 8,500 people have been killed in Israel’s assault, including 3,500 children.
In northern Gaza, where Israel has ordered a million people to leave their homes and head for the southern half of the enclave, hospital conditions have been particularly tough.
Read also: Gaza hospitals struggling to cope with air strikes, blockade
Officials at the Turkish Friendship Hospital said bombing had damaged a ward treating cancer patients.
“The bombardment caused great damage and put some electro-mechanical systems out of work. It also endangered the lives of patients and medical teams,” said Doctor Sobi Skaik, director of the hospital, the area’s only cancer treatment facility.
Although a near-total communications blackout over the weekend has eased since Monday, many Gaza residents fear losing touch with friends and relatives again under the bombardment.
For emergency and medical services, the loss of phone and internet caused significant operational problems.
On Saturday, Elon Musk said SpaceX’s Starlink would support communication links in Gaza with “internationally recognized aid organizations”. Israel’s Communication Minister Shlomo Karhi said Israel “will use all means at its disposal to fight this”.
Some Gazans urged Musk to help maintain communications.
“We are in the 21st century and all institutions depend on the internet and communications and electricity. Should these things get cut off, the Gaza Strip would be isolated from the rest of the world,” said Sobhi Abu Zaid, a displaced man sheltering at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, in the south.
Israel has blockaded Gaza, cutting off electricity, and refuses to allow in fuel, saying it could be used by Hamas for military purposes. Hospitals have warned they may soon be unable to operate generators needed to maintain life-saving functions.
“In a few hours from now the power will cut due to the limited fuel available,” said surgeon Moaeen al-Masry, adding this would lead to the deaths of patients in intensive care and surgical wards.
Gaza’s Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said the main generators for both the Indonesian Hospital and for al-Shifa Hospital, in Gaza City, could be switched off late on Wednesday.
Israel’s military spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said Hamas was hoarding fuel for its own operations. “There’s enough for many days, for hospitals and water pumps to run,” he said.
Read: UN rights chief condemns Israeli ‘siege’ of Gaza
Last week, the Indonesian Hospital nearly ran out of fuel and had to cut electricity in much of the facility. After receiving some of Gaza’s increasingly limited supplies it is operating again, but remains close to a total blackout, Masry said.
Indonesian Hospital has about 250 patients at present, Masry said. Because it is close to frontlines in northern Gaza, the hospital has received many of those caught in Israel’s bombardment and advance, he said.
Since Israel expanded its ground operations in Gaza on Friday, the northern districts of Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun have been under particularly heavy fire.
Footage obtained by Reuters showed Palestinians carrying bodies to the hospital on Tuesday on a donkey cart from Beit Hanoun.