Medical evacuations from Gaza have been severely limited and halted completely during Israel's military offensive on Rafah, according to the World Health Organization. The UN health agency has been urging Israeli permission to evacuate critically ill and severely wounded individuals from Gaza. Despite the urgent need for thousands of Gazans to be evacuated for medical reasons, very few have been able to leave the besieged area since the conflict began nearly eight months ago.

WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris explained that the halt in medical evacuations following Israel's military offensive in Rafah has dire consequences, as it will lead to more fatalities among those awaiting treatment. Prior to the war, 50 to 100 people were leaving Gaza daily for complex medical treatments not available in the territory, such as cancer care. These individuals still require referrals despite the conflict. Moreover, the disruption of services in Gaza has resulted in increased demand for medical evacuations, particularly for treatments like chemotherapy and dialysis that were previously accessible within the strip. Additionally, the conflict has led to thousands requiring evacuation due to severe trauma injuries.

According to WHO estimates, there are approximately 10,000 individuals at any given time who urgently need to be evacuated from Gaza for essential medical treatment. This includes over 6,000 trauma-related patients and at least 2,000 with serious chronic conditions, such as cancer.

Since the complete cessation of medical evacuations from Gaza on May 8, around 1,000 critically ill and wounded patients have been added to the list. Despite WHO's requests, Israel had granted approval for only 5,800 medical evacuations, less than half of the number needed since the war began. Out of those approved, only 4,900 patients had been able to leave, as reported by Harris.

The Gaza conflict erupted after Hamas's attack on southern Israel, resulting in a significant number of casualties, majority being civilians. The ongoing military retaliation by Israel has led to a substantial loss of civilian lives in Gaza, as per the health ministry of the Hamas-run territory.