GAZA STRIP: The spokesperson for the Gaza health ministry said that operations in Al Shifa hospital complex, the largest in the Palestinian enclave, were suspended on Saturday after it ran out of fuel
“As a result, one newborn baby died inside the incubator, where there are 45 babies,” Ashraf Al-Qidra, the spokesman for the Health Ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza told Reuters.
Israel’s military, which residents said had been fighting Hamas gunmen all night in and around Gaza City where the hospital is located, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The situation is worse than anyone can imagine. We are besieged inside the Al Shifa Medical Complex, and the occupation has targeted most of the buildings inside,” Qidra said by telephone.
The Israeli military has said that Hamas militants who rampaged through southern Israel last month have placed command centers under Shifa hospital and others in Gaza, making them vulnerable to being considered military targets.
Hamas has denied using civilians as human shields and health officials say growing numbers of Israeli strikes on or near hospitals put at risk patients, medical staff and thousands of evacuees who have taken shelter in and near their buildings.
“The occupation forces are firing on people moving inside the complex, which is limiting our ability to move from one department to another. Some people tried to leave the hospital and they were fired at,” Qidra said, adding that there was no electricity and no Internet.
Aid agency says sitution is “catastrophic”
Aid agency Doctors Without Borders said it was “extremely concerned” about the safety of patients and medical staff at Al-Shifa hospital.
“Over the last few hours, the attacks against Al-Shifa Hospital have dramatically intensified,” it said in a statement posted online on Saturday morning.
“Our staff at the hospital have reported a catastrophic situation inside just a few hours ago.”
Maher Sharif, a nurse heading to the Al-Shifa hospital when it was struck on Friday, described how people threw themselves to the ground.
“I saw dead bodies, including women and children,” she said, according to a statement by Doctors Without Borders.
“The scene was horrific.”
Gaza resident Hanane told AFP his daughter was being treated at Al-Shifa after being wounded as she queued outside a bakery. She “starts shaking” with each explosion, he said.
Many people have taken refuge in the hospital grounds. AFP journalists saw people in beds lined up along a corridor. Some cooked meals with gas cannister stoves and ate while sitting on the floor.
Twenty of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are “no longer functioning,” the UN’s humanitarian agency said.
Israel denies attacking hospitals
Israel has denied targeting hospitals and its army has accused Hamas of using the medical facilities as command centers and hideouts, a charge the Palestinian militant group denies.
Israeli forces would “kill” Hamas militants if they saw them “firing from hospitals,” however, military spokesman Richard Hecht said.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Israel had the right to defend itself after the last month’s Hamas attacks.
Hamas fighters smashed through the border on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 239 people hostage, according to updated Israeli figures.
But Macron told the BBC that civilians were dying as a result of Israel’s air and expanding ground campaign.
“These babies, these ladies, these old people are bombed and killed,” the French leader said. “So there is no reason for that and no legitimacy. So we do urge Israel to stop.”
The Gaza health ministry says Israeli fighting has killed more than 11,000 people, mostly civilians and many of them children, figures that cannot be independently verified.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also expressed concern over the civilian toll.
“Far too many Palestinians have been killed,” he said during a visit to New Delhi on Friday.
Blinken repeated his support for Israel and welcomed “progress” after the country formally agreed to four-hour pauses in its campaign in parts of Gaza where tens of thousands have fled in search of safety.
“I was also very clear that much more needs to be done in terms of protecting civilians and getting humanitarian assistance to them,” Blinken said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response to Macron’s comments that Hamas, not Israel, was to blame for the civilian deaths.
Netanyahu repeated that Israel was trying to avoid harming civilians but that Hamas was preventing them from moving to safe areas and using them as “human shields” — a charge Hamas denies.