Gaza’s main hospital goes dark in intense fighting as Israel’s attacks put it at odds with allies

by Lucas Garcia
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Israel-Hamas Conflict

Israel’s Prime Minister, in response to Western allies’ demands, has asserted his stance against easing military actions to safeguard Palestinian civilians. This comes as Israeli forces surround Gaza’s main hospital, Shifa, where reportedly five individuals, including an infant born prematurely, perished due to a power outage caused by depleted fuel for generators.

Contrary to Hamas and Shifa personnel’s denial, Israel contends that Shifa Hospital serves as a key command center for Hamas, where militants allegedly use civilians as shields and have established extensive underground bunkers. The hospital and other medical facilities in northern Gaza’s conflict zone have seen escalating clashes and dwindling supplies in recent times.

Mohammed Abu Selmia, Shifa’s director, conveyed the dire situation over a phone call amidst gunfire and explosions: “There is no electricity. Medical equipment has ceased functioning. The death toll, particularly in intensive care, is rising.” Abu Selmia accused Israeli troops of firing indiscriminately at the hospital, both inside and outside, and of obstructing movement within its premises.

Independent verification of these claims about Israeli troops being the sole source of fire is not available.

The Israeli military, when asked about the allegations of firing into Shifa’s courtyard, stated that their operations are focused on combating Hamas in the vicinity, with all feasible precautions taken to avoid civilian casualties. They reported encountering numerous Hamas combatants in underground facilities and civilian structures like schools, mosques, and clinics.

Medhat Abbas, a Health Ministry spokesman, reported the deaths of five patients, including a premature baby, following the generator failure at Shifa.

Prime Minister Netanyahu maintained that Hamas bears responsibility for any civilian harm, reiterating the accusation that Hamas exploits Gaza’s civilians as human shields. He mentioned Israel’s efforts to evacuate civilians from conflict zones, contrasting it with Hamas’s attempts to prevent such evacuations.

This statement came in light of French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for a cease-fire and his urging other leaders to join this initiative, stating to the BBC that Israel’s ongoing bombings lacked justification.

Following Hamas’s lethal attack on Israel on October 7, resulting in over 1,200 deaths, Israel’s allies initially supported its right to self-defense. However, as the conflict enters its second month, opinions are diverging regarding Israel’s conduct in the war.

The U.S. has advocated for temporary ceasefires to enable broader distribution of crucial aid to the besieged civilians in Gaza, where conditions are worsening. Israel, so far, has only agreed to short daily evacuation windows for civilians to leave the northern Gaza combat zone on foot, heading south.

Since the announcement of these evacuation opportunities a week ago, U.N. monitors report that over 150,000 civilians have fled the north. Israel recently announced a new evacuation window, allowing civilians to use central and coastal roads. However, tens of thousands remain in northern Gaza, many seeking refuge in hospitals and overcrowded U.N. facilities.

Palestinian civilians and human rights advocates have criticized Israel’s depiction of the southern evacuation zones as “relatively safe,” noting ongoing Israeli bombardments throughout Gaza, including in the south, targeting Hamas leaders but also resulting in civilian casualties, including women and children.

The U.S. and Israel have differing visions for post-war Gaza. Netanyahu and Israeli military leaders insist that Israel’s security needs, such as preventing threats from the territory, must dictate the future of Gaza. Their stated war goal is to dismantle Hamas, which has governed Gaza for 16 years.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined principles for a post-war Gaza that seem at odds with Israel’s approach. These include no forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, no use of the territory for attacks against Israel, no reduction of Gaza’s territory, and a commitment to Palestinian-led governance in Gaza and the West Bank, unifiedly.

Saudi Arabia hosted a meeting in Riyadh with Muslim and Arab leaders to develop a unified strategy on Gaza. Initially planned as separate gatherings, they were merged in response to the escalating violence, according to the Saudi Foreign Ministry.

Concerns escalate as fighting nears hospitals in densely populated Gaza City, with Israel claiming Hamas uses these facilities. Shifa, where thousands have sought shelter, has become a center of controversy, with many fleeing following nearby strikes.

Health Ministry spokesman Abbas reported that 1,500 patients and medical personnel, plus 15,000-20,000 refugees, remain at Shifa, now lacking basic necessities and functioning medical equipment. Despite the danger, medical staff, including Doctors Without Borders surgeon Mohammed Obeid, are committed to staying and aiding those in need, amid calls for hospital protection.

The Gaza Health Ministry reports over 11,070 Palestinian deaths, mostly women and minors, since the war’s onset, without distinguishing between civilian and militant fatalities. Approximately 2,700 people are missing, presumed trapped or deceased under rubble.

Early Saturday, a strike in the Nuseirat refugee camp, within the southern evacuation zone, resulted in six deaths. Israel has suffered over 1,200 fatalities, primarily from the initial Hamas attack, and 41 Israeli soldiers have

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Israel-Hamas Conflict

What is the current situation in Gaza’s main hospital, Shifa?

Shifa Hospital in Gaza is facing a critical situation, with five patients, including a premature baby, dying due to the generator running out of fuel amid intense fighting. The hospital is encircled by Israeli troops, and its medical facilities have ceased functioning due to a lack of electricity.

How is Israel justifying its actions around Shifa Hospital?

Israel defends its actions by alleging that Shifa Hospital is being used as Hamas’ main command center, claiming that militants are using civilians as human shields and have set up bunkers underneath the hospital. These claims are denied by Hamas and Shifa staff.

What are the international reactions to Israel’s actions in Gaza?

International reactions are mixed. While Israel’s initial response to Hamas’ attacks was supported by its allies, there is growing concern and disagreement over Israel’s ongoing actions in Gaza. French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a ceasefire, and the U.S. is advocating for temporary pauses to allow for aid distribution.

What is the stance of the United States regarding the conflict?

The United States is pushing for temporary ceasefires in Gaza to facilitate the distribution of aid to civilians. The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has outlined principles for a post-war Gaza, emphasizing no forced displacement of Palestinians, no use of Gaza for attacks against Israel, and a commitment to Palestinian-led governance.

How many casualties have been reported in the Israel-Hamas conflict?

More than 11,070 Palestinians, mostly women and minors, have been killed since the war began, and about 2,700 are missing. In Israel, at least 1,200 people have been killed, mainly in the initial Hamas attack, and 41 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza since the ground offensive began.

More about Israel-Hamas Conflict

  • Gaza Crisis Humanitarian Impact
  • Israel-Hamas Conflict Analysis
  • International Response to Gaza Conflict
  • U.S. Position on Israel-Gaza War
  • Gaza War Casualty Report

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