Medical workers and health organizations announced the killing of two senior doctors – a neurologist and the head of internal medicine at the largest hospital in Gaza – in Israeli attacks on the besieged Palestinian enclave.
The deaths exacerbate a shortage of medical staff and expertise in the Gaza Strip, the result of a 14-year blockade that prevents freedom of movement, causes severe inventory shortages and impedes medical progress.
Dr Ayman Abu al-Ouf, head of internal medicine at Al-Shifa Hospital, was killed along with members of his family in an early-morning missile attack in the Al-Wehda district in Gaza on Sunday.
At least 33 civilians were killed during the bombing and rescuers sifted through the rubble of apartment buildings to find survivors.
“This is a shock to me and to the entire medical community,” said Dr. Osaid Alser, a former al-Oufs student who also interned at Al-Shifa, told Al Jazeera. “He is one of the oldest doctors in internal medicine in Gaza … This means a great loss to the medical community.”
Dr Mooein Ahmad al-Aloul, a 66-year-old psychiatric neurologist, was also killed in his home early Sunday during the attacks on Al-Wehda, his brother Mazen al-Aloul told Al Jazeera.
He added that his brother, who had studied in Egypt and France and worked in Saudi Arabia before returning to Gaza, worked at a specialized clinic before his death.
Dr al-Aloul’s 25-year-old daughter, Aya, spoke to Al Jazeera by telephone from the hospital, saying she and her mother had recovered from grenade wounds there.
“Without warning,” she said, “they bombed our house.”
With at least 192 Palestinians killed in Gaza since the Israeli bombing, including 58 children, as well as hundreds wounded, Gaza’s medical system, which was already on the verge of collapse before the coronavirus pandemic, is deteriorating.
At least ten Israelis have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza.
There is a shortage of medical staff, especially in Gaza where those present are overwhelmed, rights groups say, and many rely on international aid groups for medical care.
In particular, there are shortages of ‘family practice [especially with a focus on children], neurology, oncology, pediatric surgery and psychiatry’, according to an article published in 2017 in the BMJ Paediatrics Open medical journal.
Dr Zaher Sahloul, president of MedGlobal, a global NGO for health, said: “There are some of the smartest health workers and doctors in the world [in Gaza], but there is a shortage of them.”