An end to the truce approaches – but the people of Gaza are desperate for help

World

The ceasefire clock is ticking down and everyone in Gaza knows it.

In the calm, people have been flooding to hospitals looking for treatment – almost overwhelming doctors.

At a hospital in southern Gaza, a Sky News team filmed as patient after patient was brought in for treatment, many of them children, with undiagnosed illnesses.

Follow the Israel-Hamas war live, as more hostages are released

The hospital’s corridors were crammed, with the injured placed on rickety beds.

In one doctor’s room, mother after mother entered with their ill children, desperate for help.

There is a real fear of a major spread of disease among the civilians, who are largely homeless and barely finding enough food to survive.

Hygiene fears in Gaza
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Hygiene fears grow in Gaza

The head of the safety unit of the Ministry of Health in Gaza told Sky News the basic lack of hygiene and lack of clean water is making problems worse.

“There are many different types of diseases, such as skin diseases between the refugees, especially gut diseases and diarrhoea,” Estamily A’adeni explained.

“As you may know most of the displaced people have a basic lack of hygiene because of their evacuation, and lack of water hygiene, this is why we see an increase in some cases such as skin disease, respiratory illness, and children in particular are suffering from diarrhoea,” he added.

Mothers in a doctor's room in Gaza
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Mothers in a doctor’s room in Gaza

Estamily A’adeni in Gaza
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Estamily A’adeni in Gaza

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Aid deliveries have continued both to the south and the north of the Gaza Strip, and the quantity of it coming in has increased.

But aid agencies have consistently said it is hopelessly inadequate.

People are increasingly desperate, and they know that when the war resumes life will get even worse.

Hundreds of thousands have already moved south, and they face the very real prospect of having to move again.

Of course, the current ceasefire has been entirely dependent on the release of hostages in Gaza, and the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

At the permanent vigil for hostages at a square in Tel Aviv, it’s clear that people are desperate for them to be returned.

At the same time though, there is widespread support for a resumption of the war on Hamas. And this is a conundrum for the Israeli government and the military – and Hamas of course always knew it would be.

This complex process has so far been remarkably successful, with negotiators staying in constant touch with both Israel and Hamas.

The vigil site itself is dominated by an enormous, fully dressed dinner table with place settings for all the hostages. Silhouetted pictures of people are hung over the back of chairs to symbolise that they’re still missing.

Vigil in Tel Aviv
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Vigil in Tel Aviv

Site of a vigil in Tel Aviv

Chairs without the pictures represent the hostages who have been released and are now in hospital or back with their families in Israel.

Hundreds of people wander around the square looking at installations – including bound and blindfolded toy dolls that represent the children being held.

A few gazebos have been set up by survivors of the various kibbutzim attacked by Hamas on 7 October. Pictures of the dead and missing from the individual kibbutz adorn the gazebos, and people come to mourn and chat with friends and relatives.

In the crowd I met Sandra Cohen. I asked her if she, like others here, believed the war against Hamas had to restart, and I asked her about the complexities of the IDF’s tactics – how to attack Hamas and get the hostages out.

“They have a dilemma because getting them out and having a full destruction of the tunnels could put them in harm’s way, so they take it day by day and they do it slowly, obviously they have drones that watch and see what’s happening, but they do want to get them back alive, and we just have to wait and see what happens.”

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