The Gaza Strip is facing a severe health crisis, with the potential for more casualties from disease than from bombings, warns the World Health Organisation (WHO).
"Eventually we will see more people dying from disease than we are even seeing from the bombardment if we are not able to put back (together) this health system," said WHO's Margaret Harris at a United Nations briefing in Geneva.
Citing a U.N. report on the living conditions of displaced residents in northern Gaza, she said: "(There are) no medicines, no vaccination activities, no access to safe water and hygiene and no food. We saw a very high number of cases of diarrhoea among infants," she said.
In October, doctors in Gaza reported patients showing signs of diseases linked to overcrowding and poor sanitation after more than 1.4 million people fled their homes for temporary shelters under Israel's heaviest-ever bombardment.
"The crowding of civilians and the fact that most schools used as shelters are housing lots of people, it's a prime breeding ground for disease to spread," said Nahed Abu Taaema, a public health doctor at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis in a Reuters report.
Hospitals in northern Gaza, including Shifa, Al-Quds, and the Indonesian Hospital, have faced heavy bombardment. The Israel Defence Force (IDF) claims that these hospitals are being used by Hamas as human shields against Israeli strikes. Hamas has denied the allegations.
Gaza health authorities, deemed reliable by the United Nations, report over 15,000 confirmed deaths, with around 40% being children. Many more fatalities are feared, buried under rubble.In Israel, the official death toll stands at 1,200.