By Monday, thousands of people were still trapped in Gaza’s largest hospital, where evacuations are being prevented by ongoing fighting between Israeli and Hamas forces.
Witnesses outside Al Shifa Hospital told AFP on Sunday that “violent fighting” raged throughout the night.
Meanwhile, the conditions in the hospital are deteriorating.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and several UN agencies warn that as many as 3,000 patients and staff are stranded in the hospital without adequate food and water. There are also fuel shortages, which according to the Hamas-controlled health department in the Gaza Strip led to the death of a premature baby and two other patients.
The latest deaths bring the death toll at the hospital to six premature babies and nine patients. The hospital has experienced more power outages in recent days. According to the department, the power problems cut off the power supply to babies’ incubators, among other things.
“Unfortunately, the hospital no longer functions as a hospital,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director of the WHO, said after he had contact with staff members at the hospital.
“There has been no electricity or water for three days now.”
He describes the conditions in the hospital as “terrible” and “dangerous”.
Other hospitals also affected
In addition to the Al Shifa hospital, other hospitals in the north of Gaza had to stop their service due to shortages and violence.
According to Youssef Abu Rish, deputy minister of health in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, “all hospitals” in the north are now “out of order”.
The UN previously said 20 of the 36 hospitals had been completely disrupted.
Israel earlier agreed to pauses in its attacks on northern Gaza that would allow some civilians to flee the heavy fighting. However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed any ceasefire on the border as “surrender” to Hamas.
Netanyahu says Israeli troops are doing “exceptionally well” in the counterattack launched after Hamas fighters crossed the border on October 7 and killed 1,400 people, most of them civilians. Another 240 people were taken hostage.
In the attempt to destroy Hamas, Israel retaliated with airstrikes and a ground attack. According to the health department, more than 11,000 people have already died. Most are civilians and many victims are children.