New Delhi, Nov 14: Gaza City’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, is facing a dire situation, characterized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “almost a cemetery” with bodies accumulating both inside and outside the facility.
Recent fighting near the hospital, surrounded by tanks, has exacerbated the crisis. The Israeli military has accused Hamas of operating a command centre underneath Al-Shifa, an allegation vehemently denied by both the hospital and Hamas.
Of particular concern is the well-being of premature and newborn babies in the hospital, as power cuts have rendered essential equipment such as incubators unusable for hospital staff.
In response, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) are reportedly in the process of coordinating the transfer of incubators from a hospital in Israel to Gaza.
A UN spokesperson has highlighted that 45 kidney patients requiring dialysis at the facility are unable to receive proper treatment due to the lack of power. This further compounds the humanitarian crisis unfolding at Al-Shifa Hospital.
The power outage and dire conditions come amid heightened tensions in the region, with Israel launching strikes on Gaza in response to Hamas attacks on October 7, resulting in a significant loss of life and numerous individuals taken hostage.
The health ministry reports that over 11,000 people in Gaza have lost their lives since the onset of the conflict and Israeli troops have nearly taken over the Gaza city.
US President Biden and UK Prime Minister Sunak Urges Israel to safeguard Al Shifa Hospital
In a press address from the Oval Office on Monday, US President Biden appealed to Israel to ensure the protection of Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital. Expressing the United States’ ongoing communication with Israeli authorities, Biden voiced his “hope and expectation” for actions that are “less intrusive” concerning the hospital. Emphasizing the imperative to safeguard the medical facility, he underscored the need for responsible conduct amid the ongoing conflict.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak echoed these concerns, urging Israel to take all necessary measures to protect civilians in Gaza. While stopping short of explicitly calling for a ceasefire, Sunak’s remarks during the Lord Mayor’s Banquet on Monday aligned with American warnings about the loss of civilian lives.
He stressed Israel’s right to self-defence while urging adherence to international law, emphasizing the protection of innocent civilians, including those in hospitals, and addressing extremist violence in the West Bank.
The area surrounding Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City has witnessed intensified fighting in recent days as part of Israel’s ground offensive against Hamas. Numerous nations have joined in calls for “humanitarian pauses” to facilitate the entry and exit of aid and people in Gaza. Simultaneously, there have been global demands for an outright ceasefire to halt the ongoing hostilities.
Amidst the escalating tensions, Israel has accused Hamas of operating a command centre beneath Al-Shifa, an allegation denied by both the hospital and Hamas.
Clashes Erupt in West Bank’s Tulkarem Camp: Seven killed
In a tragic incident this morning, seven Palestinians lost their lives in the Tulkarem refugee camp in the West Bank during clashes with the Israeli military, as reported by the head of the local hospital to the international media. Dr Amin Khader, who also serves as a surgeon at Thabet Thabet Hospital, disclosed that three individuals were killed by live ammunition, while four succumbed to shrapnel injuries resulting from an explosion.
Dr Khader further revealed that among the casualties, 12 people were wounded, with four in critical condition, and some still undergoing surgery. The Israeli army and police issued a statement asserting that their forces encountered gunfire and responded by eliminating several Palestinian gunmen.
The IDF’s presence in the camp involved the demolition of streets and buildings, with armoured vehicles reportedly deployed in the area. According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, the toll of violence in the West Bank has reached a grim milestone, with at least 180 Palestinians killed since October 7 increasing more strain. The situation remains tense.
UNRWA Faces Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza as Fuel Depot Runs Dry
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has issued a dire warning, stating that the fuel depot crucial for its operations in Gaza has been depleted.
Juliet Touma, the agency’s Director of Communications, informed the BBC that this situation jeopardizes the largest humanitarian operation in the Gaza Strip, preventing UNRWA from picking up aid supplies scheduled to arrive from Egypt.
“We have 780,000 people sheltering with us – we will not be able to serve them,” Touma emphasized. The agency, which had been relying on fuel from the private sector and coordinating with Israeli authorities, now faces a critical shortage.
The unfolding crisis comes at a time when lives are at stake, particularly for infants in incubators at hospitals heavily reliant on fuel for electricity.
Andrea De Domenico, Head of OCHA’s office in Palestine, warned that a “humanitarian ceasefire” and urgent fuel supplies are imperative, emphasizing that time is running out before a major disaster occurs.
The situation in Gaza has been worsened by ongoing conflict, resulting in casualties, displacement, and infrastructure damage.
Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip, witnessed intensified fighting over the weekend, leading to critical infrastructure damage and reported casualties, including nurses.
Compounding the crisis, Al Quds Hospital in Gaza City, the second-largest in the enclave, is no longer operational due to damage to the main generator line. Efforts to evacuate patients, including intensive care cases and infants in incubators, are underway amid challenging conditions.
As thousands of people evacuate northern Gaza, fuel and medical supplies are in critical demand. The lack of fuel also impacts aid deliveries, with UNRWA reporting that as of tomorrow, the operations of receiving trucks will no longer be possible.
UN agencies, echoing the UN Secretary-General’s call, emphasize the urgent need for a humanitarian ceasefire, the release of hostages, and sustained aid access in the embattled region.