Israeli tank at gate of Al Shifa hospital; WHO says situation 'dire and perilous'
Gaza health ministry spokesperson, who was inside the Al Shifa hospital in Gaza city, said an Israel tank was now stationed at the hospital gate even as WHO called the situation as 'dire and perilous'
FP Staff November 13, 2023 17:30:58 IST
Palestinians react at a hospital following Israeli strikes, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday. Reuters
The main hospital in Gaza City, where doctors said patients, including newborn newborns, were dying due to lack of fuel, was the main focus of Israeli forces’ advance into the northern side of the Gaza Strip on Monday.
Along with an increase in fighting along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and US airstrikes targeting Iranian-affiliated militia targets in nearby Syria, there was new worry that the war may extend beyond Gaza.
Gaza health ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qidra, who was inside the Al Shifa hospital in Gaza city, said an Israel tank was now stationed at the hospital gate.
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“The tank is outside the gate of the outpatient clinic department, this is how the situation looks this morning,” Reuters quoted Qidra as saying over phone.
Israel has told civilians to leave and medics to send patients elsewhere. It says it has attempted to evacuate babies from the neo-natal ward and left 300 litres of fuel to power emergency generators at the hospital entrance, but the offers were blocked by Hamas.
Qidra, the Gaza health ministry spokesperson, denied rejecting the offers of fuel but said the 300 litres would power the hospital for just half an hour. Shifa needed 8,000-10,000 litres of fuel per day, which must be delivered by the Red Cross or an international aid agency, he told Reuters.
According to Reuters, an Israeli official who requested anonymity said 300 litres could last several hours because only the emergency room was now operating, reducing the hospital’s need for fuel.
The Gaza health ministry said that of 45 babies in incubators at Shifa, three had died as of Sunday. Qidra had no immediate update.
A surgeon at the hospital, Dr Ahmed El Mokhallalati, said on Sunday bombing had forced staff to line up premature babies on ordinary beds, using the little power available to run warm them.
“We are expecting to lose more of them day by day,” he said.
Al Shifa was “not functioning as a hospital anymore”, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a post on X.
“WHO has managed to get in touch with health professionals at the Al-Shifa hospital in #Gaza. The situation is dire and perilous,” he added.
“Tragically, the number of patient fatalities has increased significantly,” he said. “The world cannot stand silent while hospitals, which should be safe havens, are transformed into scenes of death, devastation, and despair.”
Israel began its effort to destroy Hamas, the militant organisation that controls the Gaza Strip, last month after Hamas fighters massacred civilians as they rampaged through southern Israel. Israel’s count puts the bloodiest day in its 75-year history at almost 1,200 deaths and 240 persons taken as prisoners to Gaza.
Since then thousands of Gazans have been killed and more than half of the population made homeless by a relentless Israeli military campaign. Israel has ordered the total evacuation of the northern half of Gaza. Gaza medical authorities say more than 11,000 people have been confirmed killed, around 40% of them children.
Israeli ground forces entered Gaza in late October and have quickly encircled Gaza City, the main settlement in the north. Fighting has since been concentrated in a tightening circle around the Shifa hospital, the enclave’s biggest, where thousands of civilians sought shelter.
Israel says Hamas fighters have an underground headquarters in tunnels beneath the hospital and are deliberately using its patients as a shield, which Hamas denies.
With inputs from agencies