French Helicopter Carrier Arrives to Provide Medical Aid for Gaza
A French amphibious assault ship equipped with 40 hospital beds has arrived in El Arish, Egypt in preparation for treating casualties from the ongoing security operation in Gaza, according to French President Emmanuel Macron.
The helicopter carrier Dixmude is now moored at a secure berth on the northern end of the Sinai Desert, about 25 nautical miles from Gaza's southern border. According to Times of Israel, the ship's capacity increases the available hospital space in the area by 10 percent. Wounded children will take priority, Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu told Reuters.
The first wounded civilians arrived on board on Tuesday for treatment. French officials have emphasized that France's Marine Nationale was the first navy to provide a hospital ship on scene.
The ship's staff and capabilities will be in high demand. Gaza's Hamas-controlled health agency estimates the number of Palestinians injured in the conflict to be in the range of 30,000 people, and it says that the number of dead is in the range of 12,000 people. (The Israeli government disputes the accuracy of these numbers.)
The ship will not be able to berth alongside in Gaza itself because of infrastructure limitations, but will be able to receive casualties by helicopter medevac from the Rafah crossing, the tightly controlled border checkpoint between Gaza and Egypt.
Civilian aid workers on the ground in Gaza face challenging conditions, and the shipboard environment may provide a safer location for the provision of medical aid. UNRWA - a Palestinian aid branch sponsored by the UN - reports that 109 of its staffers have been killed in Gaza since October 7, the day that terrorist group Hamas launched its attack on Israeli civilians and soldiers.