UAE field hospital in Gaza's Rafah determined to stay operational despite Israeli assault

Director of the hospital tells The National that the medical facility received 30 critical cases in past three days

Malak Al-Ghoul, a 14-year-old displaced Palestinian amputee from the town of Al-Mughraqa in the central Gaza Strip. EPA
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The UAE field hospital in Rafah has remained operational and dedicated to treating Gazans, even amid the widening Israeli assault on the southern city in the strip.

The 150-bed hospital, opened in December as part of the UAE's Gallant Knight 3 humanitarian operation, is situated in the centre of Rafah city.

Sultan Al Kaabi, the director of the hospital, told The National on Saturday that despite the continuing shelling and Israeli operations in Rafah presenting challenges, the hospital is determined to deliver services.

"The UAE field hospital continues to receive injured people and provide treatment to patients despite the current situation in Rafah city," Mr Al Kaabi said.

"The hospital is currently treating around 150 patients,” he added.

Other doctors in the area, south of the Gaza Strip, are warning of the impact of Israel's blocking of fuel, food, and aid from entering the war-torn enclave.

In a statement, the director of the Kamal Adwan hospital, in the north of the strip, said his facility will be out of service "within hours" if not supplied with fuel.

Back in the south, Dr Sohaib Al Hams is the director of Rafah's Kuwaiti hospital - which has been ordered for evacuation by the Israeli army.

“Israel doesn’t respect any international or humanitarian laws.

Currently, there is no other place for patients and injured individuals except this hospital," he told The National.

Dr Hams appealed for the protection of medical professionals, especially those who remain trapped inside the hospital.

Rafah assault

Israel on Monday began an assault on Rafah in search of Hamas battalions, despite warnings of high civilian casualties in the southern city, putting the ceasefire talks on the brink of total collapse as they reached a critical stage.

More than a million displaced Palestinians have sought shelter in Rafah, pushing the UN, the US and other countries to repeatedly warn against an Israeli assault on the city that would cause a “bloodbath”.

Despite the warnings, Israel continued with its operation, shelling different areas and sending tanks to several parts while seizing the border crossing with Egypt, pushing around 80,000 displaced Palestinians to flee.

The UAE has condemned “in the strongest terms the Israeli forces invasion and seizure of the Rafah border crossing in southern Gaza" and warned against military escalation that threatens to cause the loss of more lives.

“We have received approximately 30 critical cases requiring surgical operations during the last three days," Mr Al Kaabi said on Saturday.

The UAE hospital is used for general surgery and orthopaedics and offers anaesthetic services and intensive care for children and adults. It also provides internal medicine, dentistry, family medicine and psychiatric treatment.

It is being operated with the support of the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, the Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, and the Emirates Red Crescent.

The Israeli assault on Rafah was launched days after the UAE field hospital started fitting prosthetics for people who lost their limbs during Israel's war in Gaza.

Hours before the operation, the hospital performed a complex neurosurgery for a woman suffering from almost complete loss of movement in her left hand as a result of a gunshot wound to the upper limb and an injury to two major nerves.

More than 34,900 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the war began on October 7, after Hamas attacked southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking about 240 hostages.

The war has driven about 80 per cent of Gaza's 2.3 million residents from their homes and destroyed apartments, hospitals, mosques and schools.

Israel's Rafah incursion has thrown Gaza's health care into deeper turmoil as foreign medical staff were ordered to leave several hospitals.

For the director of the Emirati filed hospital, the facility is determined to stay operational and continue providing medical services despite the numerous challenges.

"This hospital is considered a supporter of the medical sector in Gaza, and we will continue to provide treatment for the injured and patients admitted to the hospital,” he told The National.

Updated: May 12, 2024, 8:11 AM