WHO sends S.O.S. to save Al-Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza _ as it happened

Ahram Online , Sunday 17 Dec 2023

The Israeli war on Gaza entered its 72nd day with renewed Israeli airstrikes on civilian targets in the strip and fierce battles against Palestinian resistance factions reported.

Displaced Palestinians gather in the yard of Gaza s Al-Shifa hospital on December 10, 2023. AFP


22:30 In a recent massacre in the northern Gaza Strip, more than 30 civilians were killed, and numerous others sustained injuries during Israeli airstrikes on Jabalia town tonight, as reported by local and medical sources.

Sources told Palestinian news agency WAFA that the airstrikes specifically targeted a residential block in Jabalia town, resulting in the killing of at least 30 people and leaving dozens more injured. Additionally, there are reports of several people missing, adding to the gravity of the situation.

Tragically, in another distressing attack, at least eight more people were killed, including two children and a woman, and numerous others sustained injuries during Israeli aerial raids. These airstrikes specifically targeted the home of a family in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

Additionally, several people were killed and others injured in an Israeli bombardment that targeted a residence owned by a family, also situated in the Nuseirat camp.

Israeli warplanes conducted attacks on multiple locations within the al-Maghzazi refugee camp, as well as areas in the al-Tuffah neighbourhood in northern Gaza. Furthermore, the Israeli military recommenced its artillery shelling, focusing on central and eastern areas of Khan Yunis city in the southern Strip. In this renewed assault, the artillery shells targeted a residence in Deir al-Balah in the central Strip.

19:30 The Karm Abu Salem border crossing between Israel and Gaza opened on Sunday for aid trucks for the first time since the outbreak of war, officials said, a move intended to double the amount of food and medicine reaching the enclave.

The crossing had been closed since October 7, and aid was being delivered solely through Gaza's Rafah crossing with Egypt, which Israel said could only accommodate the entry of 100 trucks per day.

Two sources in the Egypt Red Crescent told Reuters that trucks were starting to enter on Sunday through the Karm Abu Salem crossing on their way into Gaza. One said there were 79 trucks.

Karm Abu Salem, on the border of Egypt, Israel and Gaza, is one of the main transit points for goods in and out of Gaza, allowing much faster transit than the Rafah passenger crossing a few kilometres away.

Israel approved the entry of aid last week.

"Starting today (Dec.17), UN aid trucks will undergo security checks and be transferred directly to Gaza via Karm Abu Salem, to abide by our agreement with the US," COGAT, the branch of the occupation military which coordinated humanitarian aid with the Palestinian territories, said in a statement.

18:00 Israeli forces bulldozed injured and displaced Palestinians who were sheltering on the grounds of Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia in north Gaza on Saturday, killing at least 20 and injuring more, according to eyewitnesses.

Doctors, local journalists, and other witnesses said the Israeli army bulldozed displaced Palestinians sheltering in tents on the hospital grounds, crushing many to death and injuring others.

"They raided the building, and they took all the employees for investigation, also the injured people were being investigated," said Ahmed Al Kahlout, a doctor at the hospital.

A video uploaded by Al-Jazeera videographer and reporter Anas Al-Sharif showed scenes of the destroyed courtyard, including what appeared to be human remains buried under bricks and rubble.

In the video, Al-Sharif explained that Israeli forces had withdrawn, but that “a major despicable act occurred at Kamal Adwan.”

Showing what appeared to be the partially buried limb of one victim to the camera, he said: “This is the body of an injured refugee who was in the hospital … the Israeli bulldozers ran him over.”

“We cannot describe the situation … tens of bodies run over by Israeli bulldozers,” Al-Sharif said as the camera panned around the yard, showing body parts amid heaps of rubble.

Ahram Online could not independently verify the videos and images captured at Kamal Adwan in the aftermath of the Israeli raid.

Read the full Ahram Online report on the Kamal Adwan attack

16:30 Gaza's main telecoms company said Sunday that mobile and internet services had gradually been restored in the centre and south of the besieged Palestinian territory, after the latest service disruption.

"We would like to announce the gradual restoration of telecom services... our field teams were able to reach and repair the main damaged site after numerous attempts in the past days", PalTel said after announcing communications were cut on Thursday.

15:30 Six fuel trucks and 40 aid trucks crossed Egypt's Rafah border crossing into the Gaza Strip on Sunday, according to Al-Qahera News.

In addition, four injured Palestinians arrived in Rafah, coming from the besieged strip, to receive treatment in the Egyptian hospitals.

On Friday, Israel approved the entry of aid into the Gaza Strip through the Karm Abu Salem crossing, following pressure from the United States.

Israel undertook this step during a visit by US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to the occupied Jerusalem, who pressed officials to reopen the crossing.

Before the war, the Karm Abu Salem crossing, located in the southern corner of Gaza, at its border with Israel and Egypt, had been the primary commercial route for goods entering and exiting Gaza.

On Tuesday, Egypt announced that it will start using the Karm Abu Salem border crossing for processing aid into the strip under an agreement with Israel.

Since the start of the war, Egypt has called on the international community to pressure Israel to keep the Rafah border crossing to Gaza open permanently to deliver aid to the strip.

International aid organizations say Gaza needs hundreds of humanitarian aid trucks daily as 2.4 million Palestinians in Gaza face near-starvation conditions due to an all-out Israeli blockade on the strip since 7 October

14:30 Israel’s military said on Sunday that two more Israeli soldiers were killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip, bringing the official number of soldiers who have died since Israel launched its ground offensive in Gaza to 121.

Military officials acknowledged on Saturday that three Israeli captives were mistakenly shot by Israeli troops.

It was Israel's first such acknowledgement of harming its captives in a war that it claims is largely aimed at rescuing them.

The three hostages, all in their 20s, were killed Friday in the Gaza City area of Shijaiyah, where troops are engaged in fierce fighting with Palestinian resistance fighters.

13:30 The emergency department at the Al-Shifa hospital in northern Gaza, devastated by Israeli bombardments, is "a blood bath" and is "in need of resuscitation," the WHO said.

In a statement, the WHO said that "tens of thousands of displaced people are using the hospital building and shelter grounds," and that there is "a severe shortage" of drinking water and food.

"The WHO team described the emergency department as a 'bloodbath', with hundreds of injured patients inside, and new patients arriving every minute," the organization said, adding that "patients with trauma injuries were being sutured on the floor... (and) no pain management is available".

The hospital is functioning at a minimal scale with very few staff and the WHO said "critical patients are being transferred to Al-Ahli Arab Hospital for surgeries."

Israel besieged and bombarded Al-Shifa Medical Complex, the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip, for weeks before raiding the facility and ransacking it.

12:30 French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna arrived in Israel Sunday where she was due to press for an "immediate and durable" truce in the Gaza war.

Colonna will meet her Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in Tel Aviv.

Paris on Saturday condemned an Israeli strike in Gaza that killed a French foreign ministry employee, demanding that "light be shed" on the circumstances.

Colonna is also due to meet the families of French captives still held in Gaza and to call for an "immediate and durable new humanitarian truce," according to a foreign ministry statement.

The truce should lead to a lasting ceasefire to release all hostages and deliver aid to Gaza, it said.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators take part in a rally in front of the US embassy in Jakarta on December 17, 2023. AFP

11:45 UK foreign minister David Cameron and German counterpart Annalena Baerbock on Saturday said the "need is urgent" for a "sustainable ceasefire" in Gaza.

The two ministers have published a joint article under the title 'Calling for a truce is easy. The details will be the tough part' in The Sunday Times in the UK and Welt am Sonntag in Germany, calling for a “sustainable” ceasefire, saying the goal must be peace-lasting “generations."

The article reads: “Our goal cannot simply be an end to fighting today. It must be peace lasting for days, years, and generations. We therefore support a ceasefire, but only if it is sustainable."

“We know many in the region and beyond have been calling for an immediate ceasefire. We recognise what motivates these heartfelt calls."

“It is an understandable reaction to such intense suffering, and we share the view that this conflict cannot drag on and on. That is why we supported the recent humanitarian pauses.”

The article marked a significant shift in tone for the two European powers toward the Israeli war on Gaza.

In the early days of the conflict, both the UK and German prime ministers visited Tel Aviv to demonstrate unconditional solidarity with Israel in its announced war objectives against Hamas.

Building on this stance, in the following weeks, both London and Berlin vehemently opposed all calls for an immediate ceasefire in the war.

However, in recent weeks, both the UK and German governments have come under increasing domestic pressure to withdraw their support for the Israel war on Gaza.

In the UK, hundreds of thousands have been joining mass weekly protests in London and other major cities demanding 10 Downing Street call for an immediate ceasefire.

In Germany, thousands have defied a ban on pro-Palestinian protests, joining demonstrations across the country.

10:00 At least 47 Palestinians were killed in a series of Israeli airstrikes targeting civilian houses in the town of Jabalia, north of the Gaza Strip, and in the Deir el-Balah refugee camp in the central province of Gaza, according to WAFA.

Further south, Israeli artillery fired a shell in the vicinity of Nasser Hospital in the city of Khan Younis, resulting in injuries to at least two young men.

Additionally, Israeli naval forces targeted several areas north of Khan Younis and its western coastline, local sources told WAFA.

The ongoing Israeli aggression against Gaza has claimed the lives of at least 19,000 Palestinians, including nearly 8,000 children and 5,000 women.

It has also resulted in the displacement of over 80 per cent of the population of Gaza.

Meanwhile, Saraya Al-Quds, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, said its fighters pounded Israeli army formations in Jabalia with mortar rounds.

09:00 An Emirati aid ship carrying 4,016 tonnes of humanitarian supplies bound for Gaza arrived at Arish Port in North Sinai on Saturday.

The ship, which departed from the port of Fujairah, brought 3,465 tons of food supplies, 420 tons of shelter materials, as well as 131 tons of medical aid that was provided by the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, the Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, and the Emirates Red Crescent, according to WAM.

Earlier on Saturday, two Emirati cargo planes carrying medical supplies and other humanitarian aid bound for Gaza arrived at Arish Airport.

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