Hundreds of wounded Palestinians lie on Gaza's Al Aqsa Hospital floor after Israeli raid

About 700 people were injured in Saturday's deadly Israeli attack on Nuseirat refugee camp

People wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip on the floot at Deir al Balah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital. AFP
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Hundreds of Palestinians injured in Saturday's deadly Israeli attack on Nuseirat refugee camp, in which four hostages were rescued, are lying on the floor of Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, waiting for their turn to receive treatment.

The hospital in Deir Al Balah is one of the few still functioning in Gaza but a shortage of medical supplies and the continuing heavy bombardment have made it impossible to tend to the hundreds of injured.

At least 274 people were killed and 698 injured when the Israeli army launched a surprise raid on the crowded refugee camp to rescue four captives taken by Hamas on October 7, according to Gaza's Health Ministry. Among those were at least 64 children, 57 women and 37 elderly people, the ministry said.

"I waited for four hours on the floor, hoping to find a doctor to examine me as shrapnel covered my body," Um Mohammed Al Assar, a survivor of the attack, told The National.

Doctors at the hospital have described appalling conditions.

“The hospital has five operating rooms that have been working round the clock since the beginning of the war," Dr Khalil Al Daqran, spokesman for the hospital, told The National. "Now, with the large influx of injured individuals, the operating department continues to work non-stop.

"Unfortunately, many patients are waiting to enter the operating rooms and some have passed away due to the immense pressure and lack of resources within the surgical departments.

“For injuries involving limbs and the spine, we do not have the necessary equipment to treat internal fractures or spinal injuries. The situation inside the hospital is extremely dire."

The medical complex was operating at three times its capacity, with the ministry saying bodies and injured civilians continue to be brought in.

While Israelis were overjoyed with the return of four hostages, the rescue mission led to one of the deadliest days since the start of the war, described by Hamas as a "complex massacre".

The Israeli military clashed with Palestinian militants, while air strikes then reduced buildings in the vicinity of the military operation to rubble.

Um Mohamad Al Assar was at home when she heard the sounds of clashes erupting nearby, with fighter jets overhead. The sound of air strikes was followed by screams. She then found herself stuck under the rubble of her own home.

"They then took me to the American Field Hospital for X-rays before bringing me back to Al Aqsa Hospital where I needed two surgeries on my legs," she said.

Despite waiting for hours to undergo surgery, she was one of the lucky few who received medical attention.

Hussein Mohammed, 39, has pieces of shrapnel lodged in his cheek and shoulders but was asked by the hospital to leave because of the lack of space for cases deemed less severe.

"I had to take X-rays for myself, my son and my wife by myself because there was no medical crew to assist us. I also have to change my own bandages," he said.

"I am in pain."

As is the case with the majority of Palestinians in Gaza, Mohammed has been displaced several times by constant bombardment. He fled from central Gaza to Rafah and then to Nuseirat, in hope of refuge and safety.

More than 37,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in Gaza since October 7 when Israel launched its war. Israel retaliated to the Hamas attack that day, which killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians. More than 84,710 people have been injured.

The Israeli strikes targeted 89 civilian residential buildings, Gaza's media office said.

"Many homes were bombed over the heads of their residents without prior warning," it said.

Al Awda Hospital was among the first to receive the injured on Saturday due to its proximity to Nuseirat camp. But patients then had to be transferred to Al Aqsa and Al Nasser hospitals.

"The hospital was filled with martyrs and injured, and it was impossible to accommodate such a large number within minutes," Dr Marwan Abu Nasser, an official at Al Awda health facility near the camp, told AFP.

"Of course, the hospital was under fire and no one could move during the operation."

Updated: June 13, 2024, 12:52 PM