24 patients died in Israeli-occupied Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza in last 48 hours: Palestinian health ministry

AFP , Ahram Online , Friday 17 Nov 2023

The Palestinian health ministry said that 24 patients at Israeli-occupied Al-Shifa hospital in the under-bombardment Gaza Strip had died within 48 hours due to power outages.

Palestinians mourn over bodies of members of the al-Rifi family who were killed in Israeli bombardme
Palestinians mourn over bodies of members of the al-Rifi family who were killed in Israeli bombardment, on November 17, 2023, outside Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah in the centre of the Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza. AFP


The news came as Israeli forces continued for the third day occupying and blockading the largest hospital in the strip, with several thousand civilians - including hundreds of patients, wounded patients, premature babies, medical staff, and displaced Palestinians - trapped inside without any supplies, under the guise of "searching for evidence of a Hamas hideout."

It also came shortly after Israel agreed to a US request to allow two fuel trucks a day into Gaza, following a UN warning that the shortages had halted aid deliveries and put people at risk of starvation.

Hamas has rejected an Israeli charge that it has a command center at the hospital, describing the Israeli allegations as baseless and farcical.

The hospital administration has also denied the Israeli claim.

Moreover, various governments and international and humanitarian organizations have also condemned the Israeli operation against Al-Shifa Medical Complex, as a war crime.

The Israeli army's air and ground campaign has killed about 11,500 people, more than two-thirds of them are women and children, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

"Twenty-four patients... have died over the last 48 hours" at Al-Shifa hospital "as vital medical equipment has stopped functioning because of the power outage", Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.

In response to a US request, Israel's war cabinet unanimously decided to allow "the entry of two diesel fuel tankers per day for the needs of the UN to support water and sewer infrastructure... provided that it does not reach Hamas", Israeli officials said.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) earlier said its aid trucks were unable to enter Gaza from Egypt for a second straight day due to the lack of fuel and a near-total communications blackout.

'Anxiety and panic' 

UNRWA said it would be unable to "manage or coordinate humanitarian convoys" from Friday because of the telecommunications outage.

"The situation in Al-Shifa is catastrophic" for patients, displaced people, and health workers who are crammed inside without electricity, water, and food, the hospital's director, Mohammed Abu Salmiya, told AFP on the phone later during a brief restoration of communications.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu alleged captives may even have been held at the medical facility, but the Israeli army did not find any captives.

Israel said its forces were searching Al-Shifa "one building at a time".

The Israeli military also said troops had recovered the remains of captured woman soldier Noa Marciano, 19, "from a structure adjacent to Al-Shifa hospital".

It had confirmed her death this week, without giving the cause. Hamas said she had been killed in an Israeli bombing.

On Thursday the army said soldiers near Al-Shifa found the body of another captive. Yehudit Weiss, 65, had been kidnapped from the kibbutz community of Beeri.

Israel has come under increasing pressure to back up its allegations that Hamas is using hospitals as command centers.

The United States has stood behind its ally, however, with President Joe Biden this week saying he had asked Israel to be "incredibly careful" in its military moves around Gaza hospitals.

More than half of Gaza's hospitals are no longer functional due to combat, damage, or shortages, and Israel's raid on Al-Shifa left extensive damage to the radiology, burns, and dialysis units, health authorities said.

AFPTV video showed Palestinian children waiting in ambulances at Deir al-Balah for evacuation via the Rafah crossing to the United Arab Emirates.

"In the beginning, they told (us) she would be martyred. She has fractures in her skull, pelvis, and the thigh," said Adam al-Madhoun, father of four-year-old Kenza who already had her right hand amputated after an attack on the Jabalia refugee camp.

Conditions for Palestinian civilians are rapidly deteriorating, the UN warned.

More than 1.5 million people have been internally displaced, and Israel's blockade of the territory means "civilians are facing the immediate possibility of starvation", World Food Programme head Cindy McCain said.

The UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) said 70 percent of people have no access to clean water in south Gaza, where raw sewage has started to flow on the streets.

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini described children sheltering at a UN school "pleading for a sip of water, or for a loaf of bread".

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