As Israeli forces surrounded Gaza’s biggest hospital on Saturday, the health care system in the Palestinian enclave was on the verge of collapse, with humanitarian groups sounding the alarm.
The Al Shifa Hospital was repeatedly struck on Friday, “causing multiple casualties and injuries in the maternity and outpatient wards,” according to a statement by Doctors Without Borders.
The situation worsened at Shifa Hospital, where at least five people died, including a premature infant, after the hospital ran out of fuel and supplies, said Medhat Abbas, a Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry official. The World Health Organization reported that 20 out of 36 hospitals in Gaza were shut down.
Abbas informed Al Jazeera that Shifa still had 1,500 patients, 1,500 medical personnel, and 15,000 to 20,000 Palestinians who had fled their homes and were seeking refuge.
The International Committee of the Red Cross cautioned that “the healthcare system in Gaza has reached a point of no return,” and urged the safeguarding of civilians and hospital staff.
“The power is out. Medical equipment stopped working. Patients, especially those in intensive care, began to die,” Mohammed Abu Selmia, the head of Shifa, told the Associated Press.
Dr. Munir Al-Bursh, the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health’s Director-General, told CNN on Saturday that 36 infants in the neonatal unit were being manually ventilated by doctors.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected calls to do more to protect Palestinian civilians on Saturday, saying Hamas was to blame for their suffering. He accused Hamas of stopping people from evacuating areas where they were warned to leave.
The Israeli military claimed that Hamas was hiding behind the hospital complex. Hamas and hospital workers denied allegations that Hamas had built complex tunnels under the complex and used civilians there as human shields.
Summary of recent events:
∎ On Saturday, Riyadh was the venue for a meeting of Muslim and Arab leaders who discussed how to deal with the crisis in Gaza.
∎ A strike on a house in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the south of Gaza killed six people on Saturday, the Hamas-run Interior Ministry said.
∎ According to the Health Ministry, which is also controlled by Hamas, more than 11,070 Palestinians have lost their lives since the war started, with women and children making up two-thirds of the casualties; the ministry does not separate the deaths of civilians and militants.
∎ Israeli authorities gave a revised death toll, saying that most of the deaths happened on October 7. They estimate that 1,200 civilians and 41 soldiers have been killed in the conflict. In addition, 240 people are still held hostage by Hamas.
Civilians flee from battle zones on Saturday Israel’s military agreed to brief daily pauses in the fighting, which opened an evacuation window early on Saturday, to give civilians a chance to escape from battle zones.
On Saturday, a large number of people were seen moving south on a main road, some walking and some using carts pulled by donkeys. U.N. observers say that more than 150,000 civilians have left the north of Gaza since the evacuation windows were first announced a week ago.
Volker Türk, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Friday that “Gaza is not safe anywhere,” expressing worries about airstrikes in places that Israeli officials have called “safe zones.”
IDF reports it has seized 11 Hamas posts The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement on Saturday that they have seized 11 “Hamas terrorist posts” in the last 24-hours.
The Israeli military also said it had discovered and demolished a subterranean tunnel network used by Hamas and deactivated a car that was set to explode.
On Friday, the IDF said that its 401st Brigade had “killed” around 150 militants since it began its operations in northern Gaza.