Deteriorating Conditions in Gaza Endanger Israeli Captives’ Lives

“The worsening conditions in Gaza pose a significant threat to the lives of not only the civilian population but also our soldiers and the 130 captives held there,” warns Hagai Levine, Chairman of the Public Health Physicians Association. Levine, who has witnessed diseases and infections brought back by returning captives, stresses the need for urgent humanitarian aid. “The captives have returned with life-threatening conditions due to the dire situation on the ground.”

Highlighting the potential consequences of unchecked diseases in Gaza, Prof. Hagai Levine, Chairman of the Public Health Physicians Association and Head of the Medical System at the Families of Captives Headquarters, asserts, “Allowing epidemics to flourish in Gaza is contrary to Israel’s interests. It endangers our soldiers, but most importantly, it imperils the captives. With 130 captives in a territory experiencing deteriorating sanitary conditions, we face an unprecedented situation that demands prompt action to safeguard their lives.”

How exactly do these deteriorating conditions harm the captives?

“The physical toll is evident among those who have returned,” explains Levine. “Due to the deteriorating sanitary conditions, especially in cramped tunnels without proper ventilation, captives have brought back salmonella, intestinal bacteria, lice, and scabies. Some have returned with severe infections due to untreated injuries. These insidious infections, capable of penetrating the blood and bones, may require surgery and can prove fatal if left untreated.”

And how does this crisis impact our soldiers?

“Our soldiers are not immune, although their exposure is somewhat mitigated as they receive water and food from Israel,” notes Levine. “However, we have witnessed an outbreak of shigella bacteria—a cause of dysentery and an increased risk of meningitis—in a Gaza battalion. While we occasionally encounter shigella outbreaks in Israel, it has been a long time since we witnessed such an outbreak within a military battalion. This is a direct result of the deteriorating conditions on the ground. The adage that an army marches on its stomach holds true, and any outbreak causing intestinal poisoning will undoubtedly hinder military operations.”

Levine adds another concerning factor: “Soldiers must also contend with the hazardous asbestos structures in Gaza that the IDF detonates during operations, releasing highly toxic particles. This poses a genuine danger. Protecting the health of our army necessitates safeguarding the environment in which they operate. It is in Israel’s best interest. Those who inject non-professional political considerations into this matter engage in shortsighted politics that may exact a heavy toll.”

It is during times of war that working under such circumstances becomes arduous, making it essential to strike a balance between security and health considerations.

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