Crisis deepen in Gaza as Shifa hospital remains under siege amidst Israeli cease-fire rejection - Day 37 as it happened

Ahram Online , Monday 13 Nov 2023

Day 37 of the ongoing war on Gaza reveals a grim situation as the Israeli Prime Minister once again rejects international calls for a cease-fire. The Israeli occupation military escalates attacks on Al-Shifa hospital, a sanctuary for displaced Palestinians, now under siege. Across the globe, hundreds of thousands of people participate in protests in solidarity with the Palestinians, demanding an end to Israel's aggression.

Al-Shifa hospital
Medics and patients are pictured at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on November 10, 2023. AFP


23:00 Palestinian Minister of Health Mai Al-Kaila said that 3,000 oncology patients, who had been receiving treatment in Al-Rantisi and Turkish hospitals, now face death after being expelled by Israel.

In a statement issued by the ministry, Al-Kaila said that 23 out of 35 hospitals in Gaza have completely stopped working, noting that the Israeli occupation forces are besieging many hospitals and preventing medical staff, paramedics, and patients from entering or exiting.

21:30 Gaza administration said the death toll from Israeli war in the Palestinian territory had risen to 11,180.

The official media office in Gaza said the dead included 4,609 children and 3,100 women, whilst a further 28,200 people have been wounded.

21:00 Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi emphasized the necessity of implementing a fair and comprehensive resolution to the Palestinian cause based on the two-state solution. 

In a phone call with the Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, El-Sisi stressed the current importance of pressing for an immediate ceasefire to protect civilians “enduring unprecedented humanitarian suffering.”

Both sides agreed on the urgent need to deliver and provide humanitarian aid to Gaza while respecting international law, a statement by the Egyptian presidency said on Sunday evening.

20:05 German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he opposed an "immediate" ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, as calls multiply globally to halt the conflict triggered by Hamas's Al-Aqsa Flood operation.

"I don't think the calls for an immediate ceasefire or long pause -- which would amount to the same thing -- are right," Scholz said in a debate organised by the German regional daily Heilbronner Stimme.

"That would mean ultimately that Israel leaves Hamas the possibility of recovering and obtaining new missiles," he added, calling instead for "humanitarian pauses".

Scholz's stance clashes with many Arab countries, France's Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is due to meet the German leader in Berlin next week.

20:00 Nearly 846 injured people and foreign passport holders have crossed the Rafah border into Egypt, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed cited the Palestinian Crossing and Borders Authority.

19:00 Five American service members were killed when a military aircraft crashed into the Mediterranean during a training exercise, the US European Command (EUCOM) said.

EUCOM did not specify the type of plane or where it was flying from, but the United States has deployed a carrier strike group to the area as part of efforts to prevent the Israeli war from on Gaza spiraling into a regional conflict.

"During a routine air refueling mission as part of military training, a US military aircraft carrying five service members suffered a mishap and crashed into the Mediterranean Sea. All five of the service members onboard the aircraft were killed," EUCOM said in a statement on the November 10 accident.

Washington rushed military support to Israel and bolstered its forces in the region -- including with the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier and other warships -- after the Hamas militant group carried out al-Aqsa flood operation on October 7.

US forces in the region have faced a spike in attacks linked to the conflict in recent weeks and have been targeted more than 40 times since mid-October, leaving dozens of American personnel with minor injuries.

18:15 Gaza patients are out "in the streets without care" after "forced evacuations" of two paediatric hospitals, an official in the Hamas-held territory said, countering the Israeli army which said it secured safe passage for civilians.

"The forced evacuations of Al-Nasr and Rantisi paediatric hospitals have left sick people on the streets without care" in Gaza City, Mohammed Zaqut, director-general of hospitals in the Palestinian territory, told reporters.

"We have completely lost contact with the caregivers" at these two hospitals, he added.

17:55 Hamas has halted negotiations on captives due to Israel's actions at the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, a Palestinian official said.

17:00 The World Health Organization (WHO) has affirmed its confidence in the death tolls reported by the health ministry in Gaza. The ministry states that over 11,000 people have lost their lives in Gaza since Israel initiated bombardments following the 7 October Hamas Al-aqsa Flood operation, according to BBC.

A WHO spokeswoman, Dr. Margaret Harris, emphasized that the ministry's reporting aligns with global health services evaluated by the WHO. 

Dr. Harris acknowledged the challenges of obtaining accurate numbers in the current chaotic and high-casualty environment, stating that the figures represent a trend rather than precise counts. 

She reiterated the WHO's call for a ceasefire and continuous humanitarian access to Gaza, characterizing the situation in Gaza as "horrific."

15:25 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for pressure on the United States to stop Israel's aggression in Gaza. "It's vital for us to secure a ceasefire," he said.

But he said there would be no agreement unless Washington accepted Gaza as Palestinian land. 

"We cannot agree with Biden if he approaches (the conflict) by seeing Gaza as the land of occupying settlers or Israel, rather than the land of the Palestinian people," he said.

Erdogan is due to visit Germany on Friday and plans to travel to Egypt and host Iran's president in the coming weeks.

"We should hold talks with Egypt and the Gulf countries, and pressure the United States," Erdogan told Turkish reporters on board his return flight from Riyadh.

14:55 A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health informed Al Jazeera that nearly ten thousand people are presently at Al-Shifa Hospital, lacking essential life necessities, with medical teams unable to perform necessary surgeries for those in need.

14:04 Sky News arabia reported that the Egyptian authorities have dispatched 82 trucks of humanitarian aid to the Al-Ouja Crossing in preparation for their entry into the Gaza Strip.

The aid going into Gaza have been highly ristricted, particularly fuel. Hossam Elsharkawi, Red Cross Regional Director for MENA, tells Al Jazeera how aid in Gaza is being controlled by Israel. 

"It felt like a public relations exercise, just to show that something is getting in," he says.

“It felt like a public relations exercise, just to show that something is getting in”.

Hossam Elsharkawi, Red Cross Regional Director for MENA, tells Al Jazeera how aid in Gaza is being controlled by Israel ⤵️

— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) November 12, 2023

13:32 The first evacuees from Gaza on Sunday have made it over the Rafah Crossing, which has been re-opened for limited travel today.

The first Polish citizens staying in the Gaza Strip crossed the border crossing in Rafah and are on the Egyptian side, the Head of the National Security Bureau of Poland said on X.

Russian citizens have also been evacuated according to the Russian ministry of emergency situations, as reported by Tass news agency. 

The country's emergency services said Sunday, that Russia has evacuated dozens of citizen from the Gaza strip, theafter Moscow denounced the long waiting time this week, saying it was "shocked" by Israeli officials declaring it could take up to two weeks to evacuate Russian citizens -- with around 500 Russians wanting to leave.

Gaza's border authority earlier announced the border crossing into Egypt would open Sunday, after remaining closed on Saturday for the 3rd day.

13:10 The Israeli occupation army reports says a number of Israeli were injured by an anti-tank missile fired from the Lebanese border. 

11:57 "The Zionist occupation forces have besieged the Al-Shifa Hospital, deploying numerous drones in its airspace," Hamas said in a statement.

These drones intensively fire upon anyone moving within the hospital grounds, including one displaced family which attempted to leave the site in the hope of survival but have been killed.

In the statement posted on its telegram channel, Hamas calls on "all international institutions in Gaza to head to the hospital, to protect it, its medical staff, and everyone inside." 

Israel’s ground assault in northern Gaza, paired with continued air and artillery bombardment, is creating havoc in hospitals and killing more and more people in what were some of the few sanctuaries available for Palestinians. 

The Israeli attacks transforms sanctuaries into morgues

11:51 The Palestinian Red Crescent declares Al-Quds Hospital out of service and inoperative due to the depletion of fuel and power outage. 

"Medical staff are making every effort to provide care to patients and the wounded. Repeated appeals for urgent international assistance, given the week-long siege and a five-day communication and internet blackout, have been unsuccessful. The hospital has been left to fend for itself under ongoing Israeli bombardment, posing severe risks to the medical staff, patients, and displaced civilians," the PRCS says in a statement.

It further says that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the northern region has worsened dramatically, with the escalation of Israeli military attacks. This includes the targeted sieging and deprivation of aid to hospitals, leading to their closure."

"The Palestine Red Crescent Society holds the international community and signatories of the fourth Geneva conventions accountable for the complete breakdown of the health system and the resulting dire humanitarian conditions."

Israel has barred fuel from being brought into Gaza.

11:43 Palestinians health official said Sunday that an Israeli air strike destroyed the cardiac ward of  Al-Shifa hospital.

"The occupier (Israel) completely destroyed the cardiac department of Al-Shifa hospital... The two-storey building has been completely destroyed in an air strike," Youssef Abu Rish, deputy health minister in Gaza told AFP.

Witnesses also confirmed the strike.

Civilians and rescuers have been looking for survivors amid the rubble. Israel has killed till now more than 11,100 people, including more than 8,000 children and women. Another 28,000 have been wounded.​

The Health ministry has not given updated casualty figures for 48 hours, saying it has been unable to establish contact with hospitals. 

"Due to the targeting of hospitals and the prevention of entry of any of the bodies or wounded, the ministry of health was unable, on Saturday, to issue accurate statistics for the numbers of dead and injured during the past hours," the ministry explained.

11:10 Israeli forces carried out a series of raids across the occupied West Bank on Saturday and Sunday, killing four Palestinians and wounding two more.

The Palestinian death toll in the West Bank since 7 October has climbed to 186. Of these, eight were killed by Israeli terrorist settlers.

11:05 Al-Qassam Brigades announces the destruction of 3 Israeli tanks and a troop carrier east of Gaza.

10:45 The United Nations said 'significant' number of people have been killed and wounded in strikes on a UN facility in Gaza City, where hundreds of Palestinians have taken refuge to escape the war.

"The shelling has reportedly resulted in a significant number of deaths and injuries," the United Nations Development Programme said in a statement.

Meanwhile, eight Palestinians have been killed and more than 20 others have been injured in an airstrike by the Israeli occupation aircraft on the Al-Najjar family's home east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza, inside the area where Israel’s military has been forcing Palestinians to evacuate to.

In a separate incident, an Israeli raid targets an UNRWA school housing thousands of displaced people north of the Strip.

Media footage showed a crater in the middle of a compound of a school run by the UNRWA in Beit Lahia in north Gaza.

The UNRWA announced on Friday that more 101 of its employees had been killed in Gaza since the start of the Israeli war, while the Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy accused the UN agencies of "complicity with Hamas," in a post on X.

10:27 The Palestinian Red Crescent warns of the peril facing injured children targeted by the Israeli occupation forces at Al-Quds Hospital, emphasizing the urgent need for their transfer abroad for treatment. 

The PRCS also say that infants inside the hospital are facing dehydration due to a shortage of breast milk alternatives.

10:11 The Director General of the Ministry of Health in Gaza said to Al Jazeera that "guarantees must be provided for the evacuation of the wounded, sick, and displaced individuals from the Shifa hospital." 

He reported that Israeli occupation forces targeted 40 displaced persons as they were leaving the hospital.

"Israeli forces bombed the water wells at the hospital during the night", he added. 

9:35 The Palestinian health ministry says the Israeli occupation turned the Shifa Medical complex "into an open war zone" as Israeli strikes pounded Gaza City overnight and into Sunday.

Residents reported heavy Israeli airstrikes and shelling overnight, including in the area around Shifa Hospital. 

“We spent the night in panic waiting for their arrival,” said Ahmed al-Boursh, a resident taking shelter in the hospital. “They are outside, not far from the gates,” the AP reported.

The hospital's last generator ran out of fuel on Saturday, causing the death of a premature baby, another child in an incubator and four other patients, according to the Health Ministry. It says another 37 babies are at risk of death because there's no electricity.

Health Ministry under-secretary Munir al-Boursh said Israeli snipers have deployed around Shifa, firing at any movement inside the compound. 

The Health Ministry says there are still 1,500 patients at Shifa, along with 1,500 medical personnel and between 15,000 and 20,000 people seeking shelter. Thousands have fled Shifa and other hospitals that have come under attack, but physicians said it’s impossible for everyone to get out.

9:10 Israeli and U.S. officials are reportedly considering a potential deal involving the release of about 80 women and children held by Hamas in exchange for the release of Palestinian women and teenagers currently held in Israeli prisons, American digital media Axios reported.

As part of the arrangement, there's discussion about allowing fuel into Gaza. According to both Israeli and U.S. officials, while the idea is being discussed, a deal is not imminent at this point.

9:00 The World Health Organisation said early in the morning it has lost communication with its contacts in Al-Shifa Hospital he largest medical complex in Gaza.

"As horrifying reports of the hospital facing repeated attacks continue to emerge, we assume our contacts joined tens of thousands of displaced people who had sought shelter on the hospital grounds and are fleeing the area," the WHO says in a statement.

"There are reports that some people who fled the hospital have been shot at, wounded and even killed. The intensive care unit suffered damage from bombardment, while areas of the hospital where displaced people were sheltering have also been damaged" 

The text posted on X says that the last reports said that the hospital was surrounded by tanks. Staff reported lack of clean water and risk of the last remaining critical functions, including ICUs, ventilators and incubators, soon shutting down due to lack of fuel, putting the lives of patients at immediate risk.

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