Panicked people leave Shifa Hospital, while dozens are killed at a school elsewhere in northern Gaza

by Lucas Garcia
Gaza Evacuation

In a harrowing turn of events, patients and staff, along with displaced individuals, hastily evacuated Gaza’s largest medical facility, Shifa Hospital, on Saturday. Amidst the chaos, Israeli forces scrutinized male evacuees, employing facial recognition techniques and detaining some. According to reports, Israeli troops were combing through the hospital in search of a purported Hamas command center allegedly situated beneath the hospital, a claim vehemently refuted by both Hamas and hospital personnel. The evacuation resulted in a drastically reduced presence at the hospital, with only a handful of staff remaining to tend to those too ill to be moved.

Mahmoud Abu Auf, a former patient, recounted his experience in a telephonic conversation with The Big Big News. He described an environment of intense fear, where tanks and snipers were omnipresent, and he witnessed the detainment of three men by Israeli forces.

In northern Gaza, the situation was equally dire. An Israeli airstrike reportedly struck a crowded U.N. shelter within the Jabaliya refugee camp, resulting in significant casualties and devastation. Survivors Ahmed Radwan and Yassin Sharif provided chilling accounts of the aftermath, with images from a local hospital showing numerous casualties.

The Israeli military, which had previously urged residents of Jabaliya to evacuate through a social media post in Arabic, stated its operations in the area were focused on targeting terrorists. However, it refrained from commenting on specific strikes, maintaining its objective to minimize civilian casualties while targeting Hamas.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, took to social media to express his shock at the unfolding tragedy and called for a humanitarian ceasefire. Martin Griffiths, the U.N. humanitarian chief, echoed these sentiments.

Meanwhile, an Israeli airstrike in southern Gaza hit a residential area in Khan Younis, resulting in the deaths of at least 26 Palestinians. The Israeli military stated that it had not mandated an evacuation of Shifa Hospital but had offered assistance for those wishing to leave safely. However, Medhat Abbas, a Health Ministry spokesperson in Gaza, contradicted this, stating that the military ordered the hospital’s clearance.

Amid the evacuations, Dr. Ahmed Mokhallalati, a physician at Shifa, reported on social media that approximately 120 patients, some in critical condition, remained in the hospital.

The ongoing conflict, now in its seventh week, was initiated by a Hamas attack in southern Israel on October 7, leading to extensive civilian casualties and abductions. The Israeli offensive has resulted in significant Palestinian casualties, with a substantial proportion being women and children, though Israel asserts many militants have been neutralized.

The conflict has had a devastating impact on Gaza’s infrastructure, with shortages of food, water, and medical supplies becoming increasingly dire. The situation is exacerbated by electricity outages and the destruction of essential facilities.

The U.N. has highlighted the critical shortage of food and water in Gaza, noting that fuel provisions are insufficient for the population’s needs. Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis intensifies, with the vast majority of Gaza’s population in urgent need of food and clean water.

In Jerusalem, a demonstration involving thousands, including families of hostages, is pressuring the government for more action to rescue those held by Hamas. The Hamas military wing’s spokesperson acknowledged losing contact with some units responsible for guarding the hostages.

As the conflict escalates, Israel indicates plans to intensify its offensive, particularly in southern Gaza, which now shelters a significant portion of the population. Reports of continued strikes and mounting casualties paint a bleak picture of the ongoing strife.

This report is compiled from various sources, including Beirut-based reporter Mroue and New York-based Anna, with contributions from Big Big News writer Julia Frankel in Jerusalem. For comprehensive coverage, visit Big Big News.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Gaza Evacuation

What happened at Shifa Hospital in Gaza?

Patients, staff, and displaced individuals were forced to evacuate Shifa Hospital in Gaza amidst a chaotic situation. Israeli forces conducted searches and facial scans, detaining some men. The evacuation was due to an Israeli operation searching for a suspected Hamas command center under the hospital, a claim denied by Hamas and hospital staff.

Where did the patients and staff of Shifa Hospital go after the evacuation?

The whereabouts of many who evacuated Shifa Hospital remain unclear. With 25 of Gaza’s hospitals non-functional and the rest only partially operational, options for relocation were severely limited. Some patients, too ill to move, were left behind with a minimal number of healthcare workers.

What occurred in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza?

In the Jabaliya refugee camp, an Israeli airstrike reportedly hit a crowded U.N. shelter, causing significant casualties and destruction. Survivors described devastating scenes with numerous fatalities, including women and children.

What was the response of international organizations to the situation in Gaza?

International organizations expressed deep concern and shock at the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza. UNRWA’s head, Philippe Lazzarini, called for a humanitarian ceasefire on social media, and the U.N. humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, stressed the intolerable burden on civilians.

What is the overall impact of the conflict on Gaza’s infrastructure and population?

The conflict has severely impacted Gaza’s infrastructure, leading to critical shortages of food, water, and medical supplies. Power outages and destruction of essential facilities have exacerbated the situation, with the U.N. warning of a dire humanitarian crisis affecting Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants.

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Sarah K November 18, 2023 - 6:24 pm

really shocking to hear about Shifa Hospital, I have friends in Gaza and its terrifing to think about what theyre going through.

Emily R November 18, 2023 - 8:05 pm

Reading about the airstrikes in Jabaliya is heart wrenching… how many more innocent lives will be lost? It’s just not fair.

Tom Jenkins November 19, 2023 - 5:30 am

Its so sad to read about this, I cant believe the situation in Gaza is still so dire, why cant the world just find peace??

Mark T November 19, 2023 - 7:31 am

This is the result of never ending conflict, when will it stop? we need more than just words, action is needed to help these people.


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