Where Even Emergency Generators Break Down

In addition to an overwhelming influx of the wounded, Gaza's hospitals are facing a new problem: They are rapidly running out of fuel for the generators they depend on for power.

Much of the Gaza Strip, including all of Gaza City, has been without electricity since Saturday night, when the Israeli ground operation destroyed the Strip's main power line, along with six other lines that transport electricity from Israel to various parts of Gaza.

A line that carries electricity from Egypt to the Rafah area was also brought down by the Israeli attack, and Gaza's own power station has been closed since December 30 due to a lack of fuel. The hospitals are thus entirely dependent on generators.

This presents another problem: Nonstop usage makes it more likely a generator will break down. But there is no way to repair any breakdowns because there are no spare parts: Israel has not allowed such parts into Gaza for two years now.

Dr. Hassan Khalaf, director of Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, told the nonprofit organization Gisha yesterday that he has asked the Red Cross and World Health Organization to coordinate a fuel delivery with Israel. So far, however, his pleas have produced no results.

Moreover, at best, the generators supply a weak current that is insufficient to run the hospitals' oxygen tents properly. That endangers the patients' lives.