Israeli army tanks surrounded the gates of Gaza’s largest hospital from all directions on Tuesday morning and access to and from the besieged Al Shifa hospital is now impossible.
In the hospital, things are also going more smoothly.
The United Nations (UN) says thousands of patients, staff members and homeless people are still trapped in the hospital at this stage due to ongoing fighting between Israeli soldiers and Hamas forces in the area.
However, the hospital no longer functions as a hospital by this time.
“We don’t have electricity. There is no water in the hospital. There is no food. It’s inhumane,” says a surgeon who works for Doctors Without Borders.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says the hospital is “almost a graveyard” as bodies pile up inside and outside the besieged facility.
Israel accuses Hamas of operating a command center in tunnels under the hospital and essentially using the sick and injured as human shields. Hamas denies this.
The American President Joe Biden has now called on Israel to use “less invasive actions in relation to the hospital”.
“The hospital must be protected,” Biden told reporters Monday.
Israel insists the hospital is not a target. However, Peter Lerner, spokesman for the Israeli army, says that the Al Shifa hospital is central to “Hamas’ command and control capabilities”.
“The idea is to take the people to safety,” argues Lerner.
According to him, there are currently “a few hundred” people trapped in the hospital. However, Youssef Abu Rish, deputy minister of health in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, says that around 20,000 displaced people are currently hiding in the hospital.
Israel recently agreed to daily pauses in military operations around certain humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to flee. However, Israeli leaders insist there will be no broader ceasefire until hostages are released.
Meanwhile, Qatar is in mediation talks about a possible agreement to free the hostages.
Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas’s military wing, said on Monday that a possible agreement would involve the release of 100 Israeli hostages in exchange for 200 Palestinian children and 75 women held in Israeli prisons.