AVH trying to get vital medical supplies into Gaza

9 Nov 2023

Doctors have run out of basic medications to treat the injured and hospitals no longer have drugs for cancer patients or those facing other life-threatening illnesses

Augusta Victoria Hospital aerial view. Photo: LWF/M.Renaux

Augusta Victoria Hospital aerial view. Photo: LWF/M.Renaux

The manager of the Gaza project at LWF-run hospital in Jerusalem says tensions have escalated across the region 

(LWI) - Over a month on from the deadly Hamas attacks and the start of the Israeli bombing of Gaza, basic medical supplies have run out for hospital patients in the devastated territory and for those who have been injured in the ongoing airstrikes.  

“There are no antibiotics, nothing to treat burns and other injuries. We want this conflict to end because it is hurting innocent civilians. We don’t know how many people are buried under the rubble and we cannot get supplies into Gaza to treat the victims,” says the manager of a project, set up by the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) to provide life-saving cancer diagnoses and treatment for people inside Gaza. 

The hospital, operated by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and based in East Jerusalem, is trying to find ways of getting cancer drugs and other specialist supplies into Gaza for patients whose lives depend upon them. In October, AVH staff were planning a visit there to coordinate the launch of a new center, due to operate out of the Al-Ahli Arab hospital run by the Episcopal (Anglican) Church.  

Some of [our patients] have died and it is heartbreaking.

– Manager of the Gaza project at Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem

Al-Ahli staff were warned to evacuate the hospital following an Israeli rocket attack on 14 October. Three days later, a major explosion in the hospital courtyard killed hundreds and injured many others. Many of them were women and children who had taken shelter after fleeing from northern Gaza following Israeli evacuation orders. 

AVH had recruited and trained a team of ten doctors and other medical personnel from Gaza to work in the new center. “The project began just before the pandemic as there is a lack of cancer specialists in Gaza and many people are diagnosed at a very late stage,” the manager says.  

“The aim is to ensure early diagnosis and treatment for patients, as they try to get permits to leave Gaza and travel here to Jerusalem for more specialized care. We are trying to keep in daily contact with staff there, as well as with our patients in Gaza, but some have died and it is heartbreaking,” the manager continues. 

Call for ceasefire and humanitarian access 

As the conflict escalated, LWF added its voice to all those condemning the widespread destruction and loss of life, demanding “an immediate ceasefire and the establishment of humanitarian corridors” to get aid to those most in need. A 6 November statement also calls for “the immediate and safe release of all hostages detained by Hamas.” It says “both Israel and Hamas have conducted this armed conflict in a manner inconsistent with the rules of war.” 

About a hundred patients and their companions from Gaza, who were receiving treatment at AVH in Jerusalem when the conflict broke out, are now stranded and living in three nearby hotels. “They are also trying to check in on their families back home and we are providing psychosocial support for them as they cope with what is happening there,” the manager says. 

Tensions have also escalated in Jerusalem and the West Bank, as security is tightened for Palestinians attempting to pass through the checkpoints. Many are avoiding the Old City and are only going out for work or essential activities. “We want everyone to have a life with dignity, as well as being able to enjoy their right to health: those are fundamental human rights,” the project manager concludes.

LWF/P. Hitchen