31 ‘very sick’ babies have been evacuated from Gaza’s largest hospital, where trauma patients remain

by Michael Nguyen
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Shifa Hospital Crisis

On Sunday, health officials reported the safe evacuation of 31 critically ill premature infants from Gaza’s primary hospital to a facility in the southern region, with plans for further transfer to Egypt. This move comes amidst ongoing conflict, with many severely injured patients still trapped at the hospital, days after Israeli forces entered the area.

Shifa Hospital, where the infants were initially housed, gained international attention due to images depicting doctors struggling to keep the babies warm amid a power outage that disabled incubators and other essential equipment. The hospital faced dire shortages of food, water, and medical supplies as Israeli forces and Palestinian militants clashed nearby.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, announced on social media the evacuation of the infants, accompanied by six healthcare workers and ten family members of the staff, to Rafah in southern Gaza. The infants, who suffered from various conditions including dehydration, vomiting, hypothermia, and sepsis due to a lack of medication, were in dire need of specialized care. Mohamed Zaqout, the director of Gaza hospitals, stated that these conditions were not conducive to their survival and confirmed their scheduled transfer to Egypt for more advanced treatment on Monday.

The hospital’s situation has raised questions about the protection of medical facilities in conflict zones, as outlined by the rules of war. The situation in Gaza has sparked emotional responses worldwide, with pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations occurring globally. The WHO, after inspecting the hospital, found 291 patients still on-site, including the evacuated infants. There were trauma patients with severe infections and spinal injury victims who couldn’t move. Tragically, four babies died in the two days preceding the WHO visit.

The WHO described Shifa Hospital as a “death zone,” with 25 medical staff remaining with terrified patients pleading for evacuation. Further complicating matters, Dr. Ahmed El Mokhallalati, the hospital’s head of plastic surgery, reported an Israeli military raid on the surgical department, leading to the investigation of staff and patients and the arrest of one patient.

Israel alleges that Hamas operates a command center within Shifa, a claim that Hamas and hospital staff deny. This accusation is part of Israel’s broader narrative of Hamas using civilians as shields. The Israeli military claims to have found weapons and tunnel entrances within the hospital premises, though these findings have not been independently verified.

In other developments, Israel’s military stated that Houthi rebels from Yemen intercepted a cargo ship in the Red Sea, traveling from Turkey to India. According to Israeli officials, the ship, owned by a British company, was not Israeli, and no Israelis were on board. The Houthis, however, claimed to have captured an Israeli vessel and crew, treating the captives according to Islamic principles.

Amid these tensions, heavy fighting erupted in Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, with reports of gunfire and tank shelling. The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) reported an Israeli airstrike on a school in Jabaliya, leading to 24 deaths. The Israeli military urged Palestinians to evacuate northern Gaza but has not explicitly claimed responsibility for this particular strike.

The conflict has resulted in high civilian casualties, with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemning the strikes and calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities. Palestinian health authorities report over 11,500 deaths, with an additional 2,700 missing and presumed buried under rubble. Israel maintains that many of these casualties are militants.

Regarding hostages, Hamas has released four, Israel has rescued one, and two bodies were found near Shifa Hospital. Negotiations involving Israel, the U.S., and Qatar are ongoing to secure the release of more hostages.

With winter’s onset, the humanitarian situation in Gaza has worsened. Over two-thirds of the population have fled their homes, and the U.N. struggles to provide basic services. Israel recently allowed a limited import of fuel for humanitarian purposes. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant hinted at a potential expansion of military operations to southern Gaza.

In light of the escalating conflict, Egypt has declined to accept Palestinian refugees, citing concerns that Israel might prevent their return. Amid these developments, Palestinian-Canadian Khalil Manaa, 71, recounted his harrowing experience fleeing to southern Gaza and facing rocket strikes.

For further details, please refer to the full coverage at bigbignews.net/israel-hamas-war.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Gaza Hospital Evacuation

Why were 31 premature babies evacuated from Gaza’s main hospital?

Due to a critical situation at Shifa Hospital in Gaza, where a power outage disabled essential medical equipment like incubators, 31 very sick premature infants were evacuated. They were transferred to another hospital in southern Gaza for urgent care and were scheduled to be moved to Egypt for specialized treatment.

What challenges did Shifa Hospital face during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Shifa Hospital faced severe shortages of food, water, and medical supplies amid ongoing clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants. The power blackout led to the failure of vital equipment, including incubators for premature babies, severely impacting patient care.

How did the World Health Organization respond to the situation in Gaza?

The World Health Organization (WHO) played a critical role in coordinating the evacuation of the sick infants. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the evacuation and highlighted the involvement of healthcare workers and family members in the process.

What allegations have been made against Hamas regarding Shifa Hospital?

Israel has long alleged that Hamas maintains a command center inside and under Shifa Hospital. This accusation forms part of Israel’s broader claim that Hamas uses civilians, including hospital patients, as cover for its military operations.

What was the international response to the situation in Gaza?

The international response included widespread concern and calls for the protection of civilians. United Nations officials, along with global health and humanitarian organizations, have condemned the high civilian casualties and the impact on critical infrastructure like hospitals.

How has the conflict affected the civilian population in Gaza?

The conflict has led to significant civilian casualties and displacement. Over 11,500 Palestinians have been reported killed, with many more missing or injured. The majority of Gaza’s population has been forced to flee their homes, facing shortages of food, water, and medical supplies.

More about Gaza Hospital Evacuation

  • Gaza Hospital Crisis
  • WHO’s Role in Gaza
  • Gaza Conflict Humanitarian Impact
  • Allegations Against Hamas
  • International Response to Gaza Conflict

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