Gaza hospitals days away from closure as fighting rages in Rafah

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said hospitals in southern Gaza have only three days’ worth of fuel left to power their operations.

The World Health Organization that hospitals in the embattled Gaza city of Rafah are perilously close to shutdown, as Israel’s military offensive and blockade have critically depleted fuel supplies and shut down key medical facilities.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said hospitals in southern Gaza have only three days’ worth of fuel left to power their operations. One of Rafah’s three hospitals has already been forced to close due to the raging violence in the area.

“Without fuel, all humanitarian operations will stop. Border closures are also impeding the delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza,” Tedros stated, issuing an urgent call for Israel to allow fuel and essentials to restock the territory.

Israel seized control of the Rafah border crossing into Egypt on Thursday, the main gateway for goods into blockaded Gaza. The move left hundreds of aid trucks stranded at the frontier unable to enter, exacerbating shortages.

“One of the three hospitals in Rafah, Al-Najjar, is no longer functioning due to the ongoing hostilities in its vicinity and the military operation in Rafah,” Tedros said.

The WHO chief echoed calls from the UN, U.S. and other world leaders for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Rafah to stabilize the situation and allow humanitarian access. However, Israel has vowed to press ahead with its operation against Hamas regardless of ceasefire efforts.

Video footage from Rafah has shown the streets eerily deserted as tanks and troops have surrounded the city. What was once residential neighbourhoods have been reduced to demolished concrete amid plumes of smoke from Israeli strikes.

Palestinian officials say over 100 civilians, including many children, have been killed in the Rafah assault so far. Israel says it is taking all possible precautions to avoid civilian casualties and lays blame on Hamas for operating in dense urban areas.

The Israeli military says its forces in Rafah have begun uncovering segments of what it described as a “metro” tunnel system used by Hamas to secretly move militants and resources around the city.

With mediation efforts deadlocked, there is no end in sight to the current Rafah operation, raising fears of even more death and devastation to come in the sealed-off enclave.