Gaza City hospitals cut off by Israel’s war on Hamas

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - GAZA, Nov 12 — Major hospitals in north Gaza remained cut off by Israel’s onslaught against Hamas today, while at the largest a Palestinian official said three premature babies had died and dozens more were at risk from lack of power.

Al Shifa and other hospitals in north Gaza, the focus of Israel’s month-old war to wipe out the militants and free hostages, were barely able to care for patients, medical staff said.

More people are killed and wounded daily by Israeli bombardment but there are fewer and fewer places for the injured to go.

Speaking from inside Al Shifa, Gaza health ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qidra said Israeli fire was “terrorising medical officials and civilians alike”.

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Israel’s chief military spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said on Saturday Israel’s military would help evacuate babies from the hospital at the request of staff there. Al-Qidra said that of 45 babies in total, three had already died and that they had not been told how to get the babies to safety.

A plastic surgeon in the hospital said bombing of the building housing incubators had forced them to line up premature babies on ordinary beds, using the little power available to turn the air conditioning to warm.

“We know this is very risky,” Dr Ahmed El Mokhallalati told Reuters. “We are expecting to lose more of them day by day.”

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In the Indonesian Hospital in Beit Lahiya also in north Gaza, Mosab Subeih, a baby boy, had been rushed in from a house struck by an Israeli missile.

“He has a direct injury to the head and bleeding, and we have no surgeries,” said one of the medics treating him with a manual resuscitator as power was cut.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said medical staff at the second largest hospital in northern Gaza, Al-Quds, were struggling to care for those there with little medicine, food and water.

“Al Quds hospital has been cut off from the world in the last 6-7 days. No way in, no way out,” said Tommaso Della Longa, spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Shifa was also out of reach for the newly wounded, said Mohammad Qandil, a doctor at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis in south Gaza, who is in touch with colleagues there.

“Shifa hospital now isn’t working, no one is allowed in, nobody is allowed out,” he said.

The World Health Organisation said it had lost contact with the hospital and was worried about people trapped there.

Israel has said doctors, patients and thousands of evacuees who have taken refuge at hospitals in north Gaza must leave so it can destroy what it says are Hamas command centres under and around them. Hamas denies using hospitals this way.

Evacuations

Today, Israel said people could safely evacuate from three hospitals in northern Gaza, including Shifa via one of its exits. Hospital director Mohammad Abu Selmeyah told Al Arabiya television that there was no safe passage out.

With the humanitarian situation across Gaza worsening, 80 foreigners and several injured Palestinians crossed into Egypt in the first evacuations since Friday, four Egyptian security sources said.

Poland said 18 of them were its citizens, and U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CBS News American citizens would be moved out of Gaza during Sunday.

At least 80 aid trucks had also moved from Egypt into Gaza by Sunday afternoon, two of the sources said. Jordan said earlier it had air-dropped a second batch into a field hospital.

Very little aid has entered Gaza since Israel declared war on Hamas more than a month ago after militants rampaged through southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostage, according to Israeli officials.

Palestinian officials said on Friday that 11,078 Gaza residents had been killed in air and artillery strikes since then, around 40% of them children.

Disease is spreading among evacuees packed into schools and other shelters and surviving on tiny amounts of food and water, international aid agencies say.

Speaking from inside Gaza City, Jamila, 54, said she and her family could hear the roar of tanks nearby.

“During the day, people try to look for essential items such as bread and water, and at night people try to stay alive,” she said. “We hear explosions throughout the night, sometimes we can tell that some of these explosions are exchanges of fire between the resistance fighters and the Israeli forces.”

Deaths pile up

The mother-of-six said her family was scared to leave.

“We hear lots of bombings in the south, and there is no food. Things there don’t seem different from our situation here,” she said by phone, giving only her first name.

Palestinian health officials said 13 people had been killed in an Israeli air strike on a house in Khan Younis in southern Gaza today.

Residents reported increased fighting around Al-Shati refugee camp, by the coast in northern Gaza. The Israeli military said it had killed a number of militants there and called on civilians to use a four-hour pause to evacuate south.

The Gaza conflict has reignited conflict on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, which has seen the worst cross-border clashes since 2006.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, which like Hamas is backed by Iran, said it attacked Israeli army troops near the Dovev Barracks today, “inflicting casualties”.

The Israeli military said earlier that anti-tank missiles fired by militants had hit a number of civilians, adding that it was retaliating with artillery fire.

The UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon said one of its members near the town of Al-Qawzah in southern Lebanon had been wounded by a bullet overnight. — Reuters

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