Dozens of health centres were damaged during the 11-day assault on the blockaded enclave, with the World Health Organization warning "the capacity of the health system to respond is completely crushed."

A Palestinian kid, who was wounded in Israel's attacks on Gaza, is brought from Rafah border gate to be treated at Arish Hospital in Arish, Egypt on May 17, 2021.
A Palestinian kid, who was wounded in Israel's attacks on Gaza, is brought from Rafah border gate to be treated at Arish Hospital in Arish, Egypt on May 17, 2021. (AA)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for access to patients in the blockaded Gaza and free passage to evacuate them for medical treatment as health workers struggle to care for the sick and wounded after 11 days of violence.

WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told a Geneva briefing on Friday that around 600 patients, including some with chronic conditions, needed to be referred outside of the besieged Palestinian enclave since the start of the hostilities, but had been unable to due to crossing closures.

"It's very important that we help Palestinians get the care they need, especially helping them get treatment outside the Gaza strip," she said.

WHO has a presence on the ground, Chaib said, but was unable to confirm whether it currently had any access from the outside. Other aid agencies have complained about limited humanitarian access and drug supplies.

Dozens of health centres were damaged during Israeli bombings earlier this month, prompting the WHO to warn that facilities risked being overwhelmed.

READ MORE: Israeli strikes target Gaza health infrastructure, sole Covid lab

Health system 'crushed'

"The capacity of the health system to respond is completely crushed," Helen Ottens-Patterson, MSF head of mission in Gaza, told journalists earlier this week.

In an indication of the challenges ahead, she said that an MSF team had to "wade through rubble and glass" to access a ministry of health compound earlier this week.

Aid workers have also raised concerns about a possible surge in Covid-19 infections after the latest violence, since many people displaced by bombings were crowded together for shelter.

Before a ceasefire took hold last Friday, Israeli land, sea and air strikes and artillery fire on Gaza killed around 254 Palestinians, including 66 children, and wounded more than 1,900 people in 11 days of war, Gaza officials say.

A barrage of thousands of rockets and other fire from Gaza claimed 12 lives in Israel, including one child and an Arab-Israeli teenager, medics say. 

Some 357 people in Israel were wounded.

READ MORE: Gaza's healthcare system buckles under strain of Israeli attacks, Covid-19

Source: TRTWorld and agencies