Israeli attacks create havoc in Gaza hospitals

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Heavy fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas trapped thousands of people in Gaza’s hospitals on Sunday, as medics and aid workers warned patients will die in the crippled facilities unless there is a pause in the battle.

Bright flares lit up the night sky over Gaza City and blasts echoed across the city, AFP television images showed, as Israel’s air and ground campaign to destroy Hamas brought the fight to key medical installations.

“If we do not stop this bloodshed immediately with a ceasefire or at the bare minimum a medical evacuation of patients, these hospitals will become a morgue,” medical aid group Doctors Without Borders warned early Sunday.

Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, the biggest in the territory, is “totally surrounded and bombardments are going on nearby”, the hospital’s director, Mohammad Abu Salmiya, said in a statement late on Saturday.

“The medical team cannot work and the bodies, in their dozens, cannot be managed or buried,” he said.

Inside the hospital, Doctors Without Borders surgeon Mohammed Obeid said there was no water, power, food, or internet for about 600 post-operative patients, 37-40 babies and 17 people in intensive care.

Countless other people are seeking refuge in the hospital grounds.

Two babies died in the Al-Shifa neonatal unit after power to their incubators was cut off and a man also died when his ventilator shut down, the surgeon said in an audio message posted on social media.

“We can see actually the smoke around the hospital. They hit everything around the hospital and they hit the hospital many times,” he said.

A sniper had shot four patients within the hospital, he said, with one man hit in the neck and another in the abdomen. People trying to leave the grounds to seek safety further south in Gaza had faced bombardments, the surgeon said.

The UN’s World Health Organization expressed alarm at the situation in Al-Shifa.

“WHO is gravely concerned about the safety of health workers, hundreds of sick and injured patients, including babies on life support, and displaced people who remain inside the hospital,” director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

The Israeli military has denied strikes or a siege at Al-Shifa hospital, and has repeatedly accused Hamas of using medical facilities as command centres and hideouts.

Hames has denied the accusations.

The Israeli army also said it would “provide the assistance needed” to help “babies in the paediatric department to get to a safer hospital” on Sunday, at the request of Al-Shifa staff.

 

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