Dr. Michael Ryan, the Executive Director of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Health Emergencies Programme, has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to allow humanitarian aid to enter "unhindered" and "unfettered."

Dr. Ryan, a native of Co Sligo, described the situation in Gaza as a "humanitarian and health catastrophe" while speaking from Cairo in Egypt with RTE's PrimeTime yesterday, October 26.

Dr. Ryan said the death toll in Gaza has exceeded 7,000 while there have been more than 18,000 verified injuries.

"The situation is just beyond belief. 66% of primary health care centers are closed, we've got many, many hospitals out of action, supplies are running low.

"We have pregnant women, people with disabilities, we have people on dialysis, we have people in cancer therapy.

"66% of the people killed are women and children. These are not combatants, these are not people fighting a war, these are civilians, these are ordinary human beings who are caught up in the most awful conflict."

Dr. Ryan said that notwithstanding the "terrible suffering" in Israel, "the reality is that what is now happening in Gaza, it is beyond belief."

"What’s unfolding in Gaza right now is a humanitarian and health catastrophe...the situation is beyond belief."

The @WHO's Dr Michael Ryan has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza so that "unhindered, unfettered humanitarian relief" can enter.@rtenews| #rtept pic.twitter.com/QxBieHUyNK

— RTÉ Prime Time (@RTE_PrimeTime) October 26, 2023

Dr. Ryan said that electricity has been cut and health care services have been functioning on backup generators, though fuel supplies are dwindling.

"You think about it, we need about 94,000 liters of fuel per day to run these hospitals," he said. "We're running on a trickle."

He continued: "Anyone in Ireland can imagine what it would be like in Dublin, or in Galway, or in Cork if the hospitals shut down and there was no electricity, and there was no water, and there was no food, and there was no fuel."

Dr. Ryan said he received reports that the "smell of death" in a hospital where some 30,000 civilians are sheltering is "just unreal."

He acknowledged it's "very hard to describe the reality for the civilians on the ground in Gaza."

Dr. Ryan sought to overcome the "rhetoric" and said: "Our interest here is in the civilian people on both sides of this conflict.

"Our interest here is to create a humanitarian pause, a ceasefire, to allow aid to go in."

He added: "I'm not a politician, that's not my job. I'm a doctor. Our colleagues in Gaza and our colleagues in Israel have done everything possible to save the lives of the people they are trying to help.

"What we need to do is put humanity back in the center of this process and we need to take the violence out.

"We need to get humanitarian access, we need a humanitarian pause, and we need safe passage for our supplies, safe passages for doctors and nurses, safe passage for patients to get further assistance.

"It's very hard. We need the international community to come together and find a way to create the conditions in which we can deliver unhindered, unfettered, humanitarian relief to the people of Gaza."

Palestinian officials say that more than 7,000 people have been killed in Gaza since October 7 when Israel began launching retaliatory strikes on the region following an unprecedented Hamas attack in southern Israel that left around 1,400 people dead, including Irish-Israeli citizen Kim Damti and Emily Hand, the daughter of Irish man Thomas Hand.

Israel has also cut off fuel, water, and electricity supplies to Gaza, while hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced following an Israeli order for people living in northern Gaza to evacuate to the south. 

On Friday afternoon, Paltel, the largest telecommunications provider in Gaza that was still largely operational, announced a "complete severance of all communications and Internet services with the Gaza Strip," according to NBC News. Paltel said intense bombing on Friday "caused the destruction of all remaining international routes linking Gaza to the outside world, in addition to the routes previously destroyed during the aggression, which led to the interruption of all communications services from the beloved Gaza Strip.

"May God protect you and protect our country."