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Hospitals struggle as casualties mount in Gaza conflict

As Israel's conflict with Hamas enters its third week, hospitals in the Gaza Strip are seeing a surge in the number of casualties coming through their doors. The United Nations is warning of a severe humanitarian crisis.

GAZA: As Israel's conflict with Hamas enters its third week, hospitals in the Gaza Strip are seeing a surge in the number of casualties coming through their doors. The United Nations is warning of a severe humanitarian crisis with medical equipment in increasingly short supply, and hospital staff working over-time to treat the wounded.

At the Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City, wounded civilians are pouring in almost every minute and every person who enters has his own tale of grief and suffering.

Up until last week, Ibrahim Al Masri lived with his wife and three children in Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza. Following repeated airstrikes in his neighbourhood, Ibrahim and his family evacuated their home.

On their way to a safe house, an Israeli missile hit the street, instantly killing his wife and two of his children. He and his four-year-old daughter, Shaima, survived. Masri said: "My daughter Shaima watched her mother, sister and brother die. She's been silent for the last four days. Sometimes she wakes up from her sleep calling for her mum."

Doctors and nurses at the hospital are working around the clock to treat Shaima and the hundreds of others who have flooded their doors in the last few days.

Dr Mads Gilbert, a trauma specialist from Norway, arrived at Al Shifa hospital at the start of the conflict to lend his medical expertise to treat the growing number of wounded. He has been especially impressed by the work of the hospital staff, particularly as resources are limited, and humanitarian aid is only allowed to enter during a few designated hours each day.

Dr Gilbert said: "The staff in Al Shifa are extremely diligent, brave and (will) stand up for their people... It's a really horrible situation. We're lacking in everything, from drugs to operation tables, fuel, electricity and disposable items - everything that is needed for a normal hospital operation."

It is not only the lack of medical equipment that is a worry for the local hospital staff - they work long overnight shifts, fearing that the next casualties to be brought in will be their own relatives. Even hospitals are not safe from artillery bombardment - four hospitals have been struck by Israeli missiles since the operation began, with both patients and staff becoming casualties.

As the bodies of the dead and wounded pile up and the cries of the bereaved continue through the night, the hard-working staff of Al Shifa are working overtime. But with no ceasefire in sight, it looks like they will be working for many nights to come. 

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