Israel says hospital lies above tunnels housing Hamas militant headquarters – At least 650 patients remain in hospital
Israeli forces arrived today at the gates of the main hospital in Gaza Citythe primary target in their battle to take control of the northern half of the Gaza Strip, where doctors say patients, including newborns, are dying because of a lack of fuel.
The spokesman for the health ministry of Hamas-controlled Gaza Ashraf Al Kindrawho is inside that hospital, Al Shifa, said that 32 patients have died in the last three days, including three newborns, as a result of the hospital’s siege and power cut.
At least 650 patients are still inside it, desperately waiting to be removed to another nursing facility by the Red Cross or some other neutral agency. Israel states that the hospital is located above tunnels that house a headquarters of Hamas militants and that they are responsible for this situation, as they use patients as human shields. The Palestinian Islamist movement denies this.
“The tanks are in front of the hospital. We are under complete lockdown. It’s totally about civilian area. Only for hospital facilities, hospital patients, doctors and other civilians staying in the hospital. Someone has to stop this,” said the hospital’s surgeon Ahmed El Mohalalati by phone to Reuters.
“They bombed the (water) tanks, they bombed the wells, they bombed the oxygen pump too. They bombed everything in the hospital. So we are barely surviving. We tell everyone, the hospital is no longer a safe place to care for patients. We are doing the patients a disservice by keeping them here,” he added.
The representative of the Ministry of Health of Hamas Kindra stated that Israeli tank was at that time parked at the gate of the hospital. According to him, Israeli snipers and drones opened fire on the hospital, making it impossible for medical staff and patients to move.
“We are under siege and in a cycle of death”he added.
Israel had told civilians to leave the hospital and staff to move patients elsewhere. He also announced that he tried to remove babies from the neonatal ward and that he left 300 liters of fuel at the hospital entrance to power emergency generators, but Hamas blocked his offers.
Kindra noted that 300 liters would only provide electricity to the hospital for half an hour and that the Sifa needs 8,000-10,000 liters of fuel per day which would be delivered by Red Cross or an international service. An Israeli official, who asked not to be named, said the 300 liters could have taken several hours to arrive because only the emergency ward was operating.
Surgeon El Mohalalati stated that 8 premature babies, who would normally be in individual incubators, are lined up in a row on a bed and kept warm with what electricity they have left.
After the death of three, according to him, another 36 were still in the neonatal unit. “We expect to lose more by the day“he added.
The Deputy Health Minister of the Hamas government announced today on his part death of “7 premature babies” and “27 patients in intensive care units” since Saturday due to the lack of electricity in Al Shifa Hospital.
This account was given to AFP by Youssef Abu Riswho noted that in Al Shifa they have also found refuge “around 20,000 displaced” and that in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, where the clashes between the Israeli army and Hamas are now concentrated, hospitals are now “out of order”.
On Saturday Al Shifa had announced that 39 premature babies were still in it and that nurses were giving them oxygen manually to keep them alive. Also a doctor from the non-governmental organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) had stated that 17 patients were hospitalized in the intensive care units.
Another big hospital in northern Gaza Strip, Al Quds, has also stopped working. The Palestinian Red Crescent said the surrounding area was being pounded by gunfire and convoys of Red Cross vehicles sent to evacuate patients and staff were unable to reach it.
Doctors have posted pictures online showing them operating by candlelight, flashlights or just the light from mobile phones, due to the lack of electricity in hospitals.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians are believed to remain in the northern part of the Gaza Strip despite the Israeli order to leave. Israel frequently bombards the south as well. Health officials said at least 14 people were killed in two separate strikes in the southern Gaza Strip’s main city of Khan Younes. At Nasser Hospital, people in vehicles were bringing injured people, including children, to the hospital.
“There are dead bodies under the debris, we need ambulances,” shouted a man.
The war was triggered by a bloody attack launched on Israeli soil by Hamas on October 7. On the Israeli side, 1,200 people died, most of them civilians, on the day of the attack, while the Palestinian Islamist movement took about 240 hostages in Gaza. In retaliation, Israel has launched an offensive to “eliminate” Hamas and has been relentlessly pounding the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Islamist Palestinian movement and has fallen into a catastrophic humanitarian situation.
On the Palestinian side, the war has killed 11,180 people, most of them civilians, including 4,609 children, according to Hamas’ health ministry.
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