Smoke rises in the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli airstrike, as seen from Sderot, Israel, 13 November 2023. EFE-EPA/ABIR SULTAN

UN condemns deaths of patients, health workers due to Gaza hospital siege

Geneva, Nov 13 (EFE).- Bombings and armed clashes have continued around Gaza’s main hospital, Al Shifa, leaving three nurses and 12 others, including two premature babies, killed, the United Nations has said.

Damaged buildings in the northern Gaza Strip following Israeli airstrikes, as seen from Sderot, Israel, 13 November 2023. EFE-EPA/ABIR SULTAN

According to the daily report of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs published on Sunday, the latest attacks caused damage to cardiovascular and maternity units, among other hospital facilities, in Gaza City, the capital of the strip.

“While many internally displaced persons (IDPs) and some staff and patients have managed to flee, others are trapped inside,” the report said, adding that the lives of 36 babies in incubators and patients with kidney problems on dialysis are at risk.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that it had lost contact with Al Shifa, while Palestinian Red Crescent Society said another hospital in the Gazan capital, Al Quds, was no longer operational due to a lack of fuel.

The United Nations also noted that on Saturday, an airstrike destroyed the Swedish Clinic in western Gaza City, where half a thousand internally displaced people were taking refuge.

On the night of Saturday to Sunday, another attack killed two doctors and injured others at the Al Mahdi hospital, also in the capital of the Strip.

The Israeli army alleged that armed groups operate in Al Shifa and underground tunnels under the facilities, something that the Gaza Ministry of Health denied.

The ministry demanded an independent investigation into this type of attack on health areas.

The UN report recalled that hospitals and medical personnel are specifically protected by international humanitarian law, and they must not be used to shield military objectives from attack.

“Any military operation around or within hospitals must take steps to spare and protect the patients, medical staff, and other civilians,” said the report.

“All feasible precautions must be taken, including effective warnings, which consider the ability of patients, medical staff and other civilians to evacuate safely,” it said.

According to the daily report, the Israeli Army has opened a corridor for patients and staff to leave Al Shifa Hospital. WHO reported that some of those fleeing using the corridor were hit by gunfire.

Israeli forces claimed that they attempted to deliver 300 liters of fuel to the hospital for urgent medical purposes, but that delivery was not taken by the hospital.

Shifa’s director has stated to the media that the amount delivered would have been sufficient for 15-30 minutes only, noting that the hospital would have accepted it if was delivered through the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to the UN report.

The United Nations also recalled in the report that at the weekend there were attacks against the building of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Gaza and against a school of the UN Refugee Agency (UNRWA), causing an unconfirmed number of causalities.

Due to the loss of contact with many hospitals in the north of the strip, the Gaza Ministry of Health has not updated its casualty figures this weekend.

So, since the start of the conflict on Oct. 7, the death toll remains at 11,078, which includes the killing of 4,506 children and 3,027 women.

Those victims also include at least 101 UNRWA workers, which represents the highest number of victims that the United Nations has had in a conflict since its creation at the end of World War II.

The report also cites two bombings in the Jabalia refugee camp on Sunday, killing 18 Palestinians, and another in a residential building in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, with at least 13 dead and 20 wounded.

After more than a month of siege without electricity and shortages of food, water, and fuel, the report recalled the extreme situation of the Gazans, forcing many to consume seawater, risking their health. EFE