Intense Conflict Surrounds Gaza Hospitals, Trapping Medics, Patients, and Infants

by Chloe Baker
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Gaza Hospital Crisis

Amidst the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas, numerous Palestinians, including the critically injured and newborns, are trapped in Gaza’s hospitals. These medical facilities, once considered safe havens in northern Gaza, are now under siege, with essential supplies running low and electricity cut off. The Israeli military’s instructions for Palestinians to head south, seeking to separate civilians from militants, has led to widespread displacement, affecting over two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents.

Over the weekend, thousands evacuated from Gaza’s largest hospital, Shifa, as Israeli troops surrounded it. However, many patients and displaced individuals remain. According to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Shifa Hospital is no longer operational. The dire situation intensified when Shifa’s incubators lost power, prompting the Health Ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza to share a distressing image of premature babies bundled together for warmth. Medhat Abbas, the ministry’s director general, emphasized the urgency of the situation, noting the recent cesarean deliveries following the mothers’ deaths.

The situation escalated further with the Red Cross’s failed attempt to evacuate about 6,000 people from Al-Quds hospital, which ceased operations due to fuel shortages. The evacuation was halted due to intense shelling and combat in the area.

Both Israel and Hamas have utilized the crisis in these hospitals, especially Shifa, as a symbol of the ongoing conflict, now in its sixth week. The confrontation was sparked by Hamas’ unexpected attack into Israel on October 7, leading to significant casualties and destruction in Gaza. Shifa Hospital epitomizes the civilian struggle, with staff performing surgeries under severe supply shortages and without anesthesia. Despite the danger, tens of thousands sought refuge in the hospital complex.

Israel accuses Hamas of using civilians as shields, alleging that militants operate within and beneath the hospital compound, a claim denied by both Hamas and hospital staff. The Palestinians counter by accusing Israel of indiscriminate firing towards medical facilities. Israel, on its part, has released evidence of militant activities in residential areas and near schools, hospitals, and mosques.

International law affords special protections to hospitals in wartime. However, these protections can be forfeited if combatants use them to conceal fighters or store weapons. Yet, any attack on such facilities must be proportionate and preceded by sufficient warning to allow evacuation.

Following the mass departure from Shifa, around 650 patients and 500 staff members remain, along with approximately 2,500 displaced Palestinians, as per Mohammed Zaqout, Gaza’s director of hospitals. The Health Ministry reported that since the outage of Shifa’s emergency generator, 32 patients, including three infants, have perished, with many more lives at risk.

Goudat Samy al-Madhoun, a healthcare worker, recounted the harrowing journey of fleeing Shifa, including encounters with Israeli fire. He mentioned the difficulties faced by those still inside, primarily relying on dates for sustenance.

The Israeli military claimed to have provided fuel near Shifa, which Hamas allegedly hindered from reaching the hospital. The Health Ministry contested this, advocating for Red Crescent assistance in fuel delivery.

The U.S. has advocated for temporary ceasefires to facilitate aid distribution, but Israel has only allowed limited windows for civilian evacuation. Meanwhile, the conflict continues, with Israel targeting militant locations, often resulting in civilian casualties.

Trapped in their homes, thousands, like Saib Abu Hashish and his family, face dire conditions with limited access to food and water. Israeli strikes have deterred many from attempting to escape.

As the situation escalates, over 11,000 Palestinians, predominantly women and children, have been killed since the conflict’s onset, though reports do not distinguish between civilian and militant casualties. Approximately 2,700 are reported missing. On the Israeli side, around 1,200 have died, mostly civilians from the initial Hamas attack, and nearly 240 hostages are held by Palestinian militants. The Israeli military has reported 44 soldier fatalities in ground operations.

About 250,000 Israelis have evacuated from areas near Gaza and the northern border due to continued rocket fire and clashes with Hezbollah.

This report has been updated to correct the number of Israeli military casualties in Gaza operations.

Reported by Jeffery from Cairo, with contributions from Amy Teibel in Jerusalem, Samy Magdy in Cairo, and Bassem Mroue in Beirut.

For comprehensive coverage, visit https://bigbignews.net/israel-hamas-war.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Gaza Hospital Crisis

What is the main cause of the crisis in Gaza hospitals?

The crisis in Gaza hospitals is primarily caused by the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Battles around hospitals have led to a dire situation, with patients, including infants, and medical staff trapped.

How has the Israeli military responded to the crisis?

The Israeli military has urged Palestinians to flee south through designated safe corridors to separate civilians from Hamas militants. However, this has resulted in widespread displacement, affecting a significant portion of Gaza’s population.

What is the current status of Shifa Hospital?

Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest, is no longer functioning as a hospital due to the conflict. It has faced power outages, critical supply shortages, and an influx of displaced individuals seeking shelter.

Are hospitals protected under international law during wartime?

Yes, hospitals are granted special protections under international law during wartime. However, these protections can be forfeited if hospitals are used to hide fighters or store weapons. Any attack on hospitals must be proportionate, with adequate warning for evacuation.

What efforts have been made to address the crisis?

The Red Cross has attempted to evacuate patients and staff from affected hospitals, but its efforts were hindered by shelling and fighting. The U.S. has called for temporary ceasefires to facilitate aid distribution, but the conflict continues.

What is the casualty toll on both sides of the conflict?

Since the conflict’s onset, over 11,000 Palestinians, including women and children, have been reported killed, with approximately 2,700 missing. On the Israeli side, around 1,200 have died, mostly civilians. The Israeli military has reported 44 soldier fatalities in ground operations.

How have residents in Gaza been affected by the crisis?

Many residents in Gaza have been trapped in their homes, facing food and water shortages. The lack of fuel has disrupted water treatment systems, and Israel has barred the import of fuel for generators, leading to power outages.

What is the status of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas?

The conflict, triggered by Hamas’ attack into Israel on October 7, continues with both sides accusing each other of using civilians and hospitals for cover. The situation remains complex and volatile.

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