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48-Hour Ceasefire Extended: WHO Warns New Threat Deadlier Than Bombs

Ceasefire Extended by 48 Hours
WHO: Infant Diarrhea Surge Sparks ‘Epidemic’ Concerns, Urges Healthcare System Recovery

Amid the agreement between Israel and Hamas to extend the ceasefire for two more days, the World Health Organization (WHO) has pointed out the collapsed healthcare system and disease risk in the Gaza Strip.

화요일에 적십자 회원이 칸 유니스(Khan Younis)의 팔레스타인 의사들이 부상당한 어린이를 진찰하는 것을 돕고 있다 / 출처 - 가디언, Mohammed Talatene/Avalon
A Red Cross member assists Palestinian doctors examining injured children in Khan Younis on the 21st / Source – The Guardian, Mohammed Talatene/Avalon

Qatari Government’s Announcement

The Qatari government announced that Israel and Hamas have agreed to extend the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip for two more days to release more hostages and prisoners. The next day, WHO warned that diseases would become a more significant killer than bombings in the Gaza Strip if authorities do not restore the health system.

The Guardian reported that after mediation by Qatar and Egypt, Hamas agreed to extend the temporary ceasefire, originally scheduled for four days, by another 48 hours under the same conditions. As a result, the ceasefire will continue until the morning of the 30th.

Hostage and Prisoner Releases

Israel’s Minister of Internal Security, as reported by Reuters, mentioned in an interview that they had agreed to a two-day extension of the ceasefire under the same conditions and expressed a willingness to extend it further if more hostages were released. However, he also revealed his intention to resume combat as soon as the hostage rescue was over.

Earlier, Israel and Hamas agreed to release 50 Israeli hostages and 150 Palestinian prisoners along with a three-day temporary ceasefire starting from the 24th.

Hamas released 39 Israeli hostages by the 26th, and Israel released 117 Palestinian prisoners, three times the number of hostages. In addition, authorities released 19 foreign hostages from Thailand, Russia, and other countries separately. Late on the 27th, Reuters reported that the release of 30 Palestinian children and three women brought the total number of freed Palestinians to 150.

WHO’s Warning

Margaret Harris, the Secretary-General of WHO, issued a warning during a UN briefing in Geneva on the 28th. She stated that if the health system in the Gaza Strip is not restored, there would be a higher likelihood of people dying from diseases as opposed to bombings.

Bombings in the Gaza Strip have killed 15,000 people, and authorities confirm that 40% of them are children. However, they expect the death toll to rise in the war’s rubble.

Secretary-General Harris repeatedly expressed concern about the spread of infectious diseases, emphasizing the scarcity of clean water and the starvation of crowded people. He noted increased diarrhea in infants, underscoring the desperate need for health everywhere. This is because the number of diarrhea patients over five has surged more than 100 times the usual by early November.

Plight of Children in Hospitals

She also expressed concern about the tragedy of the collapse of Al Shifa Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip due to Israel’s siege and the detention of some medical staff by the Israeli army.

Currently, bombings and fuel shortages have rendered 26 out of 36 hospitals in the Gaza Strip non-operational. A UNICEF spokesperson reports that hospitals are filled with children suffering from burns, shrapnel injuries, and gastroenteritis due to drinking dirty water. Children who have lost their legs have been lying on the hospital floor for hours.

CBS 영상 갈무리
A child receiving emergency treatment on the floor / Source – CBS News Video Capture

Secretary-General Harris described the living conditions in the Gaza Strip as having “no medicines, no vaccination activities, no access to safe water and sanitation, and no food.”

Regarding this ceasefire extension, President Joe Biden of the United States stated his intention to continue diplomatic efforts until the release of all hostages detained by Hamas. He declared, ‘We have increased additional support for innocent civilians suffering in the Gaza Strip.

By. Park Chan Seo

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