Abd al-Wahhab Suleiman (64) lives in Abasan al-Kabira in the south of Gaza.

Gaza: healthcare systems damaged by May airstrikes

Air attacks had devastating consequences for health centres in Gaza that were already operating under severe constraints, grappling with years of resource shortages.


The damage wrought on the Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, the Indonesian hospital in northern Gaza and two primary health care clinics in Khan Younis and northern Gaza during five days of air attacks in May this year is having devastating consequences.

Hospitals and health centres in Gaza were already operating under severe constraints, grappling with years of resource shortages. But treating the hundreds of people injured during the attacks stretched the capacities of medical facilities to their limits, forcing them to deprioritise others in their care, like the ongoing support and medical treatment needed by older patients.

One of the most acute problems facing older people is the lack of dedicated institutions that provide general services for their health and livelihood. During the air raids earlier this month, people in the Gaza Strip, particularly the older people, were unable to access government clinics and hospitals to obtain medicine. Many of Gaza’s older people are dependent on the government system for their medical care. But now they have to pay if they need health care and must cover their transport costs to the health facilities. This is particularly challenging, given that most older people have no source of income.

Bahaa Zaqout, External Relations and Fundraising Coordinator, at PARC (HelpAge partner) lives in the Gaza strip.

Older people are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases that need medical attention, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.

According to Bahaa, the recurrent air strikes, combined with the loss of lives and destruction of homes, has led to increased rates of anxiety and depression among older people. “The June attacks exacerbated the mental health toll facing older people, with many of them enduring sleepless nights.”

The damage to the hospitals strained the limited resources and infrastructure available for mental health care in Gaza, leaving older people without the necessary support systems to cope with the psychological aftermath of the attacks.

He added: “A system needs to be designed that specifically targets older people, offering them financial support that will enable them to overcome the many economic challenges they face in Gaza.”

Halima Shehada, with her husband. Gaza.

Halima Shehada with her husband in Gaza. © Palestinian Agricultural Relief Comittees - PARC

Halima Shehada (68) lives in Abasan al-Kabira in the south of Gaza.

She cares for her husband who has limited movement in his legs due to a stroke. The recent air strike in Gaza directly affected her life as the strain put on the hospitals and clinics left her and her husband without access to medicine.

“We refer to government clinics, but they do not provide services to all the diseases. Most of the medicines are purchased on credit from private pharmacies and we can’t afford to pay.” Says Halima.

The recent airstrike in Gaza brings back bad memories to her family. Halima lost her son to a similar incident in 2014.

“I feel anxious thinking about the current situation as I can’t provide for my husband and my basic needs. I depend on my children to buy food for me and help with household chores.”

“We had five sleepless nights when the air raids started. We were very stressed and in fear of what might happen next. The war could return at any moment, and it’s left us mentally unstable.”

Abd al-Wahhab Suleiman - Gaza

Abd al-Wahhab Suleiman © Palestinian Agricultural Relief Comittees - PARC

Abd al-Wahhab Suleiman (64) lives in Abasan al-Kabira in the south of Gaza.

He was a construction worker, but after multiple strokes, is no longer able to work. He now lives with heart disease and reduced vision. Abd al-Wahhab remembers the recent attack on his neighbourhood which has left him struggling to get the medicine he needs.

“My brother’s house was partially destroyed when his neighbour was bombed. I am glad that he survived. I feel exhausted from the psychological damage and the disruption of daily work as a result of the cessation of movement.”

“I usually get health care from government clinics, but they cannot provide what I need. Treatments for chronic disease are not provided for free and the only way to receive these treatments is to pay in cash. Even hospitals do not cover the total required health.”

Supported by HelpAge International, PARC, is actively working to promote the inclusion of older people. They conduct needs assessments and target older individuals for various activities, aiming to improve their interventions and better meet the specific requirements of older people.