GAZA/JERUSALEM, Nov 20 – Egypt receives 28 premature babies from Gaza hospital amid Israeli attack
On Monday, 28 premature babies who were evacuated from Gaza’s largest hospital, Al Shifa, were taken to Egypt for emergency treatment. The World Health Organization (WHO) and Palestinian authorities reported that another 12 people died at the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza, which was surrounded by Israeli tanks.
The newborns were in Al Shifa hospital in northern Gaza, where several others had succumbed to their injuries after the power supply to their incubators was cut off due to the deterioration of medical services during Israel’s military offensive on Gaza City.
Last week, Israeli forces took over Al Shifa hospital to look for a tunnel system that they claimed was used by Hamas militants under the hospital. Over the weekend, hundreds of patients, medical staff and displaced people fled from Al Shifa hospital, with doctors accusing the Israeli troops of forcing them out and Israel denying any coercion.
Egypt’s Al Qahera TV broadcasted live images of medical staff gently transferring the infants from an ambulance to portable incubators, which were then pushed across a parking lot to other ambulances.
The babies were moved on Sunday to a hospital in Rafah, on the southern border of Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, to stabilize their condition before being flown to Egypt. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that 12 of them had arrived in Cairo.
A WHO spokesperson said that all of the evacuated babies were “battling severe infections”.
Since the beginning of this month, eight babies have died after doctors at Al Shifa hospital raised an international alert about 39 premature babies who were endangered by the lack of infection prevention, clean water and medicines in the neonatal unit.
12 KILLED IN HOSPITAL UNDER ISRAELI SIEGE At the Indonesian Hospital, which was funded by Indonesia, the health ministry of Gaza said that at least 12 Palestinians were killed and many more injured by shots fired into the hospital compound, which was encircled by Israeli tanks.
Health officials said that 700 patients and staff were exposed to Israeli gunfire.
The Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that the hospital, located in the northeastern Gaza town of Beit Lahia, was hit by artillery shells. Hospital staff denied the presence of any armed fighters on the premises.
Tedros, the WHO chief, said he was “horrified” by the attack, which he also said had claimed the lives of 12 people, including patients, based on unconfirmed reports.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said that soldiers had returned fire at combatants in the hospital while taking “numerous measures to reduce harm” to civilians.
“During the night, terrorists fired from inside the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza at IDF soldiers operating outside the hospital,” the IDF told Reuters. “In response, IDF soldiers targeted the specific source of enemy fire. No shells were fired at the hospital.”
Lloyd Austin, the U.S. Defense Secretary, who was on a visit to Ukraine, reiterated the stance of the United States, Israel’s main ally, on the necessity of delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza civilians.
“We have stated at every stage that our expectation is that Israelis conduct their operations in compliance with the laws of war,” Austin said. “…they must do everything, or should do everything, that they can to provide humanitarian assistance to the people in Gaza.”
The U.N. said that 69,000 litres of fuel entered Gaza from Egypt on Sunday after Israel agreed to allow the daily delivery of about 70,000 litres, “which is far below the minimum requirements for essential humanitarian operations”.
The Indonesian Hospital, like all other health facilities in the northern part of Gaza, has mostly stopped functioning but is still hosting patients, staff and displaced people.
Israel has ordered the evacuation of the north, but thousands of civilians are still there. Food, fuel, medicines and water have been scarce across the territory under Israel’s six-week-long blockade.
Medecins Sans Frontieres, a medical charity, said that its clinic in Gaza City was also attacked on Monday.
Israel-Gaza conflict: Hostage deal nears amid deadly strikes and rockets
As Israeli air strikes killed at least 19 Palestinians in Rafah and Khan Younis in southern Gaza, where many displaced people are sheltering, witnesses reported intense clashes between Israeli troops and Hamas fighters in the north.
The Israeli military said it had eliminated three Hamas commanders and a group of militants in its operation to destroy Hamas’s rocket infrastructure, but did not specify where. Hamas claimed it had fired a volley of missiles at Tel Aviv, and rockets were also seen targeting central Israel.
Meanwhile, U.S. and Israeli officials expressed optimism that a Qatari-brokered deal to release some of the 240 hostages taken by Hamas in a raid into Israel on Oct. 7 was close to being finalized. “We’re closer now than we’ve been before,” said White House spokesman John Kirby.
The hostage crisis triggered Israel’s invasion of Gaza, which has resulted in the deaths of about 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians, in the worst attack in Israel’s history, and at least 13,300 Palestinians, including more than 5,600 children and 3,550 women, in relentless Israeli bombardment, according to Gaza’s Hamas-led government.
The U.N. said that two thirds of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million had been rendered homeless by the conflict. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who assumed office on Jan. 1, 2017, said he had never seen such a level of civilian casualties in any war during his tenure.
News Source : Reuters