Biden Should Send Navy Hospital Ships, Airlift Medical Supplies to Gaza, Senators Write

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks during a hearing examining private equity in health care at the State House.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks during a hearing examining private equity in health care at the State House. (Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)
  1. The war in Israel has hit a tipping point.

It's now been half a year since Hamas terrorists attacked Israel and sparked a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and injured or displaced many more, and a group of Democratic U.S. senators are calling on President Joe Biden to do more to alleviate a growing "medical crisis" that's exacerbating already dire circumstances for people living in the Gaza Strip.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, joined by fellow Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Peter Welch of Vermont, sent a letter to Biden on Wednesday encouraging his administration to "mobilize airlifts of medicine and medical equipment" to the few remaining functional hospitals in war-torn Gaza and to deploy the U.S. Navy's hospital ships to the region.

The senators say that "it is critical that we address the medical crisis in Gaza immediately, as it exacerbates the 'cascading disaster.'"

According to the letter, medical workers in Gaza are performing procedures on hospital floors and working weeks at a time without a break while mass casualty events occur "at least three or four times every night." Over 400 medical staff have been killed since the start of the war, the letter states, and for many health care workers "the challenge is to simply survive another day."

    The letter goes on to state that 16 of 22 United Nations operated health centers have been closed and that the few hospitals that are open don't have the equipment or supplies to be "fully operational."

    No hospitals in Gaza have the capacity to provide critical trauma care, according to the senators.

    The lawmakers suggest the president should deploy the U.S. Navy's two hospital ships, the USNS Mercy and the USNS Comfort, which would add 2,000 hospital beds to the region, and that the Biden Administration should work with allies and partners in the Middle East to establish more field hospitals.

    They go on to ask that Biden detail his capability, if any, for airlifting medical supplies and equipment into Gaza and a timeline on when that could occur. They ask how allies and non-governmental organizations might help, what challenges are faced by a U.S. backed field hospital already established in Rafah, and if severely wounded patients could be moved into neighboring Egypt.

    "Israel has the right to pursue Hamas terrorists who carried out the horrific attacks on October 7th, but it must comply with international law. The combination of Israeli restrictions on access to humanitarian aid and the harm caused by relentless bombing and shelling has devastated Gaza's healthcare capacities at a time when the need for urgent care is soaring. It is critical that the United States leverage its unique capabilities to urgently and dramatically ramp up medical support to the people of Gaza," the wrote.

    According to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, 33,000 Palestinians have been killed since the Israeli government declared war on the terrorist organization in response to their Oct. 7 attack on Israel, when 1,200 people died and hundreds more were kidnapped. More than 130 hostages are still being held captive by terrorists.

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