More people could die from disease than from Israeli bombings in Gaza if its health system was not repaired, a World Health Organization spokesperson has said.
"Eventually we will see more people dying from disease than we are even seeing from the bombardment if we are not able to put back (together) this health system," said the WHO's Margaret Harris at a UN briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.
Palestinian health authorities in Gaza deemed reliable by the United Nations say more than 15,000 people have been confirmed killed in Israel's bombardment, around 40 percent of them children, with many more dead feared to be lost under rubble.
Israel has launched relentless air and ground attacks in Gaza following a cross-border attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on Oct. 7.
The Israeli death toll is around 1,200, according to official figures.
She repeated concerns about a rise in outbreaks of infectious diseases, particularly diarrhoeal diseases.
Citing a UN report on the living conditions of displaced residents in northern Gaza, she said: "(There are) no medicines, no vaccination activities, no access to safe water and hygiene and no food. We saw a very high number of cases of diarrhoea among infants," she said.
Al Shifa closure - 'a tragedy'
She described the collapse of Al Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza as a "tragedy" and voiced concern about the detention of some of its medical staff by Israeli forces during a WHO evacuation convoy.
James Elder, a spokesperson from the UN Children's Agency in Gaza, told reporters by video link that hospitals in Gaza were full of children with war wounds and gastroenteritis from drinking dirty water.
"I met a lot of parents. They know exactly what their children need. They don't have access to safe water and it's crippling them," he said.
He described seeing one child with part of his leg missing lying on the hospital floor for several hours, without receiving treatment for a lack of medical staff.