Italy sending a hospital ship to the Gaza coast

November 8, 2023

Italy’s Defense Minister, Guido Crosetto, said Wednesday that an Italian Navy hospital ship was heading to the coast of Gaza to help treat victims of the Israel-Hamas war. 

The ship Vulcano would be leaving from an unnamed Italian port, carrying a staff of 170 including 30 people trained for medical emergencies, Crosetto told reporters, adding that a field hospital would be brought “directly to Gaza in agreement with the Palestinians.”

The announcement from Italy came as doctors in Gaza have said they’re running out of medical supplies, with International Committee of the Red Cross chief surgeon Tom Potokar warning Wednesday that the health care system in the territory is “under severe strain.”

“We are really running out of things now, dressings, particularly for the burns. We are running out of anesthetic and analgesic drugs. The staff, both ourselves and the local staff here, are getting very worn out,” Potokar said, adding that what the medical workers were enduring was “nothing compared to what the people here in Gaza are suffering at this moment.”

The Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City was scaling back most of its operations due to “an acute shortage of fuel,” the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said in a statement Wednesday. The PRCS warned that the hospital expected to run out of fuel by the end of the day.

Some 81 aid trucks did cross into Gaza on Tuesday via the Rafah border crossing from Egypt, according to the PRCS, delivering food, water, medicine and medical supplies. 

The total number of humanitarian aid trucks that have entered Gaza through Rafah has reached 650, but Israel has not yet allowed fuel to be delivered. Before giving the go-ahead, Israel reportedly wants to see each fuel tanker accompanied by a United Nations monitor team to ensure it goes to Gaza hospitals and not Hamas.

PHOTO: Italy’s Vulcano hospital ship in Genoa, this past July

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