WHO warns disease could be bigger killer than bombs in Gaza

STORY: Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip has already killed more than 15,000 people, many of them in devastating airstrikes that have turned neighborhoods into rubble.

But the World Health Organization warns that even more people could die from disease than from bombs if the beseiged enclave's health system is not repaired.

"(There are) no medicines, no vaccination activities, no access to safe water and hygiene and no food.”

WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris on Tuesday said the agency is already seeing a dangerous surge in diarrhea in Palestinian children.

“We saw a very high number of cases of diarrhea among infants and again, no, there’s no treatment available for them. You know, if you have a child with diarrhea you need to give them re-hydration in order to keep them going until they get better and if you’re not able to do that, they can die very quickly from dehydration.”

Harris added that nearly three quarters of hospitals, or 26 out of 36, have shut down entirely in Gaza due to bombings or lack of fuel.

Under the terms of a pause in fighting, Israel has allowed more aid to flow into Gaza including food, water and medicine although aid agencies say it is not enough to meet the immense needs.

James Elder is a spokesperson for UNICEF:

“When I was coming here, I expected the worst in coming and I was surprised that it was even worst than I’d imagined. Hospitals for children, hospitals full stop, are war zones. I see children with horrendous wounds of war in car parks, on makeshift, mattresses, in gardens, everywhere. Doctors having to make horrendous decisions on, you know, who they prioritize.”

Israel has sworn to annihilate Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, after its gunmen burst through the border killing around 1,200 people and seizing 240 captives on Oct. 7.