Gaza Medical Crises Burden Falls Heavy On Over 50000 Pregnant Women

Amid Gaza's heart, the UN estimates 50,000 pregnant women face maternity challenges daily as the healthcare system crumbles. With over 180 births occurring daily, the situation demands urgent attention and intervention.

Oshi Saxena
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Image Credits: Getty Images/Time

Amidst the ongoing conflict in Gaza, a humanitarian crisis is unfolding, particularly in the realm of healthcare. The United Nations estimates that approximately 50,000 pregnant women are currently residing in Gaza, where the healthcare system is grappling with unprecedented challenges. With more than 180 births occurring daily, the strain on the already decimated healthcare infrastructure is alarming.


The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) sounded the alarm, revealing that its health centres, now reduced from 22 to seven, are grappling with the surge in healthcare demands.

The Human Toll On Maternal Health

Post-natal and high-risk pregnant women bear the brunt of the crisis, with UNRWA doctors and midwives tirelessly working to provide essential care under increasingly challenging circumstances. The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, minced no words in describing the tragedy befalling Gaza's health system. He highlights the relentless commitment of health professionals in the region, who continue to operate amidst constant insecurity and an influx of wounded patients. The healthcare infrastructure, a lifeline for the vulnerable, is crumbling under the weight of the conflict, with immediate action desperately needed.

Gender-Based Atrocities And Abductions

UN Women expresses deep concern over the reported gender-based atrocities and sexual violence that transpired during and after the attacks. Shockingly, around 250 people, including approximately 65 women, were abducted, underscoring the urgency of addressing the specific vulnerabilities faced by women in conflict zones.

Targeting Of Pregnant Women


At Gaza's Tal al-Zaatar, Israeli forces are alleged to have shot and killed four pregnant women, further exacerbating the already dire situation in the region. The incident occurred as the women were en route to the Al-Awda Hospital. Eyewitnesses on the ground, as reported by Al Jazeera Arabic, claim that the Israeli forces not only shot the women but also ran over their bodies with bulldozers. The horrifying scene left the bodies unburied among piles of other casualties in Tal al-Zaatar, raising serious concerns about the respect for human life and the treatment of civilians in conflict zones. According to reports, the women were waving white flags, a universally recognized symbol of surrender or a plea for mercy. 

While local Palestinian news outlets have also reported the suspected killings, verification has proven challenging. The New Arab was unable to confirm these reports independently. 

The Strain On Healthcare Facilities

UNRWA's grim revelation that only 38 percent of pre-conflict hospital beds remain available paints a bleak picture of the healthcare landscape in Gaza. The departure of health staff, now reduced to 30 percent of the original workforce, further compounds the crisis. Hospitals, protected by international humanitarian law, find themselves in the crosshairs of Israeli strikes, diminishing their capacity to cater to the urgent healthcare needs of the population.

The WHO's records reveal a harrowing statistic: 246 Israeli attacks on healthcare infrastructure in Gaza as of December 20. Hospitals and ambulances, meant to be safe havens, face repeated assaults, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. The toll on healthcare facilities, a lifeline for the besieged population, underscores the urgency of international intervention to halt the wanton destruction.

Unbearable Scenes And Displacement


Reports from the WHO describe scenes in badly damaged hospitals in northern Gaza as "unbearable." Largely abandoned patients, pleading for food and water, embody the depths of the humanitarian catastrophe. With only nine out of 36 hospitals partially functional, the healthcare vacuum in Gaza is stark. Tens of thousands of residents, displaced and dispossessed, seek refuge in UN schools or endure the harsh conditions in makeshift tents.

The grim toll of the 11-week war is etched in the numbers: at least 20,424 Palestinians killed, 166 in the past 24 hours alone, and tens of thousands wounded. The spectre of bodies trapped under rubble haunts the region. Against this backdrop, a staggering 80 percent of Gaza's 2.3 million residents find themselves displaced in southern Gaza, grappling with the harsh realities of displacement and the loss of lives and livelihoods.

Gaza, described by UNICEF  as the "most dangerous place to be a child," is grappling with an epic humanitarian catastrophe. Hundreds of thousands of civilians endure unbearable conditions, with nearly 1 million women and girls displaced and over 12,000 women and children killed. The situation is dire, and urgent action is imperative.

Displaced Palestinian Mother in Gaza Gives Birth to Quadruplets

Ammar and Iman al-Masry
Ammar and Iman al-Masry, displaced Palestinians who fled from their home in Beit Hanoon to escape Israeli bombardment, hold three of her quadruplets as they take shelter at a school in Deir el-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on December 27 [Mahmud Hams/AFP]

Iman al-Masry, a 28-year-old mother from Beit Hanoon in northern Gaza, faced an arduous journey to safety, ultimately giving birth to quadruplets under challenging circumstances. Iman's journey began in mid-October, amid the escalating conflict. Fleeing her family home in Beit Hanoon with her three children, she embarked on a perilous journey to seek safety. Walking five kilometers to the Jabalia refugee camp, the distance took a toll on her, being six months pregnant. The struggle left a lasting impact on her pregnancy, culminating in a challenging cesarean delivery on December 18.


The aftermath of childbirth brought a cruel twist as Iman and her newborns were swiftly asked to vacate the hospital to accommodate other victims of the war. This separation left Mohammed, the most fragile of the quadruplets, behind in a hospital in the Nuseirat refugee camp. Now, in a cramped schoolroom shelter in Deir el-Balah, Iman, along with Tia, Lynn, and Yasser, faces the harsh reality of displacement.  The al-Masry family, like many others, faces the daunting challenge of finding clean water, adequate food, and essential supplies such as diapers and medicine. The devastating shortage exacerbates the already dire situation.

The al-Masry family's struggle reflects the broader crisis faced by countless others in war-torn regions, emphasizing the imperative for collective efforts to alleviate the suffering of innocent lives caught in the crossfire.

The healthcare system, a lifeline for the people of Gaza, is on the brink of collapse. Immediate action is required to address the critical healthcare needs and alleviate the suffering of the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire of this devastating conflict.

Israel Hamas Conflict Gaza Crisis Women in Gaza