The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that the largest hospital in Gaza has stopped functioning and the number of patient fatalities is increasing due to the ongoing Israeli assault in the Hamas-controlled strip. Hospitals in the northern part of the Palestinian enclave, including the al-Shifa complex, are blockaded by Israeli forces and are struggling to provide adequate care. Medical staff reported that three newborns have already died at Shifa, and more are at risk due to power outages caused by the intense fighting nearby. Israeli authorities claim that they are targeting Hamas militants who launched attacks in southern Israel and allege that the group has command centers under and near the hospitals.
The WHO managed to speak to health professionals at Shifa, who described the situation as “dire and perilous.” The constant gunfire and bombing worsen the already critical circumstances. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed his concern about the significant increase in patient fatalities and stated that Shifa is no longer functioning as a hospital. Tedros joined other top United Nations officials in calling for an immediate ceasefire, emphasizing that hospitals should be safe havens and not scenes of death and devastation.
Israel claims that it is attempting to free the hostages taken by Hamas militants and argues that the hospitals should be evacuated. The European Union condemned Hamas for using hospitals and civilians as human shields in Gaza while urging Israel to exercise maximum restraint to protect civilians. European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell highlighted the severe impact of the hostilities on hospitals, civilians, and medical staff. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan accused Hamas of using hospitals and other civilian facilities to house fighters and weapons, which he deemed a violation of the laws of war. Sullivan emphasized that the United States does not want to see firefights in hospitals and has been in active consultations with the Israeli Defense Forces regarding this issue.
The article concludes by mentioning that Israel declared war on Hamas over a month ago following militant activities.In southern Israel, approximately 1,200 people, mostly civilians, have been killed by the ongoing conflict, according to Israeli officials. Palestinian officials report that since then, 11,078 Gaza residents have been killed in air and artillery strikes, with around 40% of them being children. The Israeli military response has sparked global protests, with hundreds of thousands demanding a ceasefire in capitals around the world. While Israel’s supporters argue that a ceasefire would allow Hamas to regroup and launch more attacks, the Biden administration has urged Israel to allow pauses in the fighting to facilitate the evacuation of civilians and the delivery of aid. President Joe Biden has also emphasized the need for the release of all hostages held by Hamas. The conflict has raised concerns about a wider escalation, as Hezbollah in Lebanon has engaged in missile attacks with Israel, and Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria have launched multiple drone and rocket attacks on U.S. forces. In response, the United States has conducted two airstrikes against Iran-aligned groups in Syria.According to a U.S. defense official, Israel launched airstrikes in Syria against Iran-aligned groups on Sunday, in response to recent attacks.
Israel’s military stated that it had offered to evacuate newborn babies and provided fuel to Shifa Hospital, but Hamas blocked these gestures.
Hamas denied refusing the fuel and claimed that the hospital falls under Gaza’s Health Ministry. They also stated that the amount of fuel offered by Israel was insufficient to operate the hospital’s generators for more than half an hour.
The spokesperson for Gaza’s Health Ministry, Ashraf Al-Qidra, reported that three out of 45 babies in incubators at Shifa had already died due to the bombing. The lack of power forced the hospital to place premature babies on ordinary beds and use limited air conditioning to keep them warm.
Dr. Ahmed El Mokhallalati, a plastic surgeon at Shifa, expressed concern that more babies would be lost each day.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that Al-Quds Hospital, the second largest in Gaza, was also out of service. The staff struggled to care for patients with limited medicine, food, and water.
Tommaso Della Longa, spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, stated that Al-Quds Hospital had been cut off from the world for the past six to seven days.
The article was reported by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Dan Williams in Jerusalem, with additional contributions from Adam Makary, Ahmed Tolba, Sabine Siebold, and Andrea Shalal. It was written by Simon Lewis and edited by Diane Craft.
The article adheres to The Thomson RushHourDaily Trust Principles.
The author of the article is a senior correspondent with extensive experience covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including multiple wars and the signing of the first peace accord between the two sides.
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