Palestinian Territory - Thousands of people with chronic and serious diseases, including kidney failure patients, face a slow death amid Israel’s genocide of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, ongoing since 7 October 2023.

There are between 1,000 and 1,500 kidney failure patients in the Strip, and these patients’ health conditions are rapidly worsening due to a lack of medical and therapeutic services, medications, and other necessities. The collapse of the health system has put immense strain on hospitals, most of which are disrupted by damage, the siege, and disruptions in fuel, electricity, and clean water supplies. As a result, patients are no longer receiving regular dialysis services.

Hospitals across the Gaza Strip struggle specifically with a severe lack of fuel, surgical instruments, medical personnel, food, and medications, including anesthesia drugs. This is particularly true in the northern part of the Strip, where there are only six partially operational hospitals. This has a serious impact on the safety and well-being of kidney failure patients. 

   Nearly 60 kidney failure patients are at risk of death at any moment, and at least 20 others have already died,   

 

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor’s field team affirms that nearly 60 kidney failure patients are at risk of death at any moment, and at least 20 others have already died, following their inability to receive adequate treatment as a result of Israel’s ongoing military attacks. Israel systematically targets the Gaza Strip’s health system, forcing most hospitals and health centres to shut down entirely. Large numbers of new patients have been documented over the past five months, but because of the breakdown of the Strip’s governmental and administrative institutions, have not been officially added to the health system database to receive the follow-up treatments they require.

Both elderly people and younger people have died, some taking their last breaths while using washing machines as a result of not having access to electricity, water, or the necessary medical resources for their cases. The difficult security conditions and prolonged home confinement of patients during Israeli ground operations  have also increased the number of kidney failure patients who died because they were unable to get to a hospital.

Israel’s frequent and intense bombing of homes and streets prevents patients from accessing hospitals for dialysis sessions and other necessary treatments, as well as from obtaining salt-free water. This presents a challenge for them at a time when toxins are building up in their bodies at a dangerous rate.

Meanwhile, the total lack of electricity has caused the desalination plant that typically pumps water to Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Hospital to go out of service. This has affected the hospital’s small number of dialysis machines, some of which have broken down, making it impossible for patients to receive the health care they desperately need. As a result, they are forced to receive dialysis sporadically, based on hospital schedules rather than on their medical needs.

Due to a shortage of fuel for backup electricity generators and fresh water required for the dialysis process, kidney operations at Al-Shifa Hospital have had to be scaled back greatly. At the same time, the hospital is thought to be treating about 40 patients with kidney failure at a rate of two sessions per week, lasting four hours each. Prior to the ongoing Israeli military attacks, Al-Shifa Hospital was treating 450 patients.

The worsening suffering of kidney failure patients is also linked to malnutrition, due to the spread of famine, especially in Gaza City and the Strip’s northern areas. Most people in the north are subsisting on legumes and dirty water, which decreases kidney function and causes toxins to accumulate that are harmful to patients’ health. 

Remarkably, the Ministry of Health in Gaza declared, several weeks prior to the start of the Israeli military assaults in October 2023, that there was a critical shortage of medical care for kidney failure patients. The Ministry further stated that it was offering 13,000 dialysis sessions per month in six centres across the five governorates of the Gaza Strip, and that the supplies it had on hand—such as blood transfusion tubes, cannulas, and dialysis filters—were almost completely depleted.

According to the Ministry, nearly 70% of patients with kidney failure are at risk for serious health complications as a result of the ongoing bombing and displacement orders, difficulties in accessing dialysis services, and Israeli restrictions on the quantity, quality, and duration of medical aid. Israel’s measures are intended to ensure that the Strip’s health system is in a state of collapse, and deny Palestinians their right to necessary and appropriate medical care, putting their lives in real danger.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor once again expresses its unequivocal condemnation of Israel’s systematic destruction and siege of hospitals in the Gaza Strip, which has resulted in the deaths, arrests, and torture of numerous medical and administrative staff members. Israel has also heavily restricted and even prevented the entry of medical supplies and medicines to hospitals and pharmacies, particularly in Gaza City and the north—decimating the Strip’s health sector, all while the number of sick and wounded Palestinians is at an all-time high.

The crimes against the health sector in the Gaza Strip as a whole are only a part of the genocide campaign that Israel has been waging for virtually six months now. This crime is a deliberate and planned attempt to cause severe physical and psychological harm to the Palestinians in the Strip, subjecting them all to extremely harsh conditions that will ultimately result in actual death if the international community does not immediately intervene.

The international community must act swiftly and forcefully to pressure Israel to end its genocide against the people of the Gaza Strip, plus end the siege and permit the urgent and efficient entry of relief supplies, including medical supplies. Euro-Med Monitor has appealed to relevant international organisations, such as the World Health Organisation, to draw attention to the dire health conditions faced by thousands of sick and injured people in the Strip. The Geneva-based group urges these organisations to use every available resource to provide humanitarian aid to save the lives of these intensely vulnerable individuals.