A Palestinian man reacts among the rubble of a residential building following an Israeli strike in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, 12 November 2023. EFE/EPA/HAITHAM IMAD

Medical crisis worsens in Gaza as al-Quds hospital runs out of power

Jerusalem/Gaza, Nov 12 (EFE).- The situation in Gaza’s hospitals worsened further Sunday with the closure of one of the Strip’s largest medical centers due to fuel and power shortages, while Israel says it is evacuating civilian refugees in hospitals in the Strip.

Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City is “out of service” and “is no longer operational,” the Palestinian Red Crescent said, adding that “the cessation of services is due to the depletion of available fuel and power outage.”

The press office of Hamas, which governs the Strip, said Israeli troops were besieging the Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s main medical center, where there are “piled up corpses,” the Islamist group, accusing Israel of perpetrating a “massacre” and “a planned and organized crime”.

Palestinians search for bodies and survivors among the rubble of a residential building following an Israeli strike in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, 12 November 2023. EFE/EPA/HAITHAM IMAD

The statement also questioned whether international agencies operating inside Al-Shifa have left the clinic and urged everyone to “immediately head to the hospital to protect it, along with the medical teams and those inside.”

According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, 40 displaced persons sheltering in the hospital were attacked by Israeli forces as they attempted to evacuate the compound.

Gaza’s health ministry said that two premature babies and a patient in the intensive care unit died due to the lack of electricity and resources in Al-Shifa.

“Two premature babies and one patient in intensive care have died, and we expect more to die,” confirmed a Gaza Health Ministry spokesman, who claimed that Israeli troops were shooting “at anything that moves in the vicinity of the Shifa compound” turning the hospital “into a war zone.”

For its part, the Israeli army said Sunday that its troops are allowing the evacuation of civilians from Al-Shifa, Rantisi and Nasser hospitals.

“Israel Defense Forces soldiers opened and secured a crossing that allows the civilian population to evacuate, on foot and in ambulances,” a military statement said, which emphasized that for several days they have been insisting to the population of northern Gaza to evacuate to the south “for their safety”.

“The Hamas terrorist organization continues to use civilian structures in the Gaza Strip, including hospitals, for its terrorist activity,” added the army, which says that the Islamist group has its headquarters underground beneath Al-Shifa.

Separately, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Sunday that it has lost communication with Al-Shifa staff.

 “As horrifying reports of the hospital facing repeated attacks continue to emerge, we assume our contacts joined tens of thousands of displaced people and are fleeing the area,” the UN agency said in a statement.

WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the situation at the medical center “deeply worrisome and frightening,” he posted on X; formerly Twitter.

According to the latest reports received by WHO, the hospital was surrounded by Israeli tanks while staff reported a lack of clean water and the risk that the last remaining critical services, including ICUs, ventilators and incubators, would soon stop working due to lack of fuel, putting patients’ lives in immediate danger.

Meanwhile, the head of the UN Development Programme, Achim Steiner, said a UNDP office in the Gaza Strip had been shelled Saturday night.

“A UNDP/UN office in Gaza was shelled last night, with reports of deaths and injured among those who sought safety in our compound. This is wrong on every count. Civilians, civilian infrastructure & the inviolability of UN facilities must be always protected,” Steiner said on his official X (formerly Twitter) account.

In a statement, UNDP said that “the shelling has caused a significant number of deaths and injuries,” without providing further details on the number of casualties or attributing the attack to anyone.

“The ongoing tragedy of death and injury to civilians ensnared in this conflict is unacceptable and must stop,” UNDP said.

Health authorities in Gaza say that more than 11,000 people – the majority women, children and the elderly – have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza in just over a month since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking around 240 hostage. EFE