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Gaza no longer has a functioning emergency service after phone and internet services were cut off on Friday evening, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
With the 101 hotline for paramedics and 102 for civil defence no longer working, paramedics and rescuers are following the sound of falling ordnance and the cries of the injured to locate victims and survivors after Israeli attacks.
“They are having to resort to primitive ways to save people – using sight and sound. Nobody can call the hotline, nobody can call for help, not even the sick or women giving birth,” the Palestinian Red Crescent’s Mohammad Al Fityani told The National from Jerusalem. He said he last spoke to his team in Gaza on Friday evening.
“Without a network, ambulances cannot even call each other or know where to go exactly. They have to simply inspect every site where there has been shelling to find out whether there are any people there who need help.
“They cannot come up with plans and reports, and they cannot arrange for additional supplies. The entire system is down.”
The death toll from Israel's bombardment of Gaza has climbed past 7,703, including 3,500 children, since the war on Gaza began three weeks ago, according to officials in the blockaded Palestinian territory.
A representative of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Israel-occupied West Bank said there were barely any details emerging from Gaza after communications cut out during intense Israeli strikes on Friday night.
“It’s not even about some damaged roads that hinder paramedics from reaching their destination. What is happening in Gaza is catastrophic. Of course there isn’t an emergency service,” Anas Al Deek told The National.
At least one third of hospitals and almost two thirds of primary healthcare clinics have gone out of service due to damage from Israeli air strikes or a lack of resources, the health ministry said in a report on Saturday.
“We have lost contact with our teams in Gaza. The silence is deafening,” the World Food Programme's executive director Cindy McCain said.
“We are at a tipping point. Humanity must prevail.”