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UN Team Reports Critical Conditions for 32 Babies in Gaza Hospital

Impact of airstrike that hit houses in Beit Hanoun
3-year-old Ahmed Shabat, sole survivor after an Israeli airstrike claimed the lives of his entire family in Beit Hanoun, Credits: Abdel Kareem Hanna

Gangtokian News Desk — A United Nations team has revealed the dire situation at Gaza’s largest hospital, Shifa Hospital, after Israeli troops allegedly forced the evacuation of 2,500 displaced people, mobile patients, and medical staff. The team, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), disclosed that 291 patients were left behind, including 32 babies in extremely critical condition and individuals with severe trauma and spinal injuries.

Forced Exodus Amidst Alleged Voluntary Departure

The evacuation, which Israel presented as voluntary, has been described by some as a forced exodus. Mahmoud Abu Auf, who left the hospital with his family, reported, “We left at gunpoint. Tanks and snipers were everywhere inside and outside.” He claimed to witness Israeli troops detaining three men.

Tragedy Unfolds in Northern Gaza

In Jabaliya refugee camp, witnesses described a horrifying scene after an Israeli airstrike hit a crowded U.N. shelter, causing significant destruction in the Fakhoura school. Dozens were reported killed, with wounded survivors Ahmed Radwan and Yassin Sharif recounting scenes of chaos, with corpses of women and children on the ground.

Southern Gaza Under Attack

In southern Gaza, an Israeli airstrike targeted a residential building in Khan Younis, resulting in at least 26 Palestinian casualties. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant hinted at an expansion of the offensive to southern Gaza, where civilians were previously urged to flee.

Shifa Hospital’s Fate Uncertain

Evacuation Scene at Shifa Hospital
Patients evacuated from Shifa Hospital as crisis deepens in Gaza, Credits: WSJ

The circumstances leading to the evacuation of Shifa Hospital remain unclear. While Israel’s military claims the hospital director requested assistance for voluntary departures, Hamas-controlled Gaza’s Health Ministry spokesperson, Medhat Abbas, insists the military ordered a forced evacuation with only an hour’s notice.

Healthcare System Struggling

Medical Staff Amidst Crisis in Southern Gaza
Healthcare workers strive to provide care amidst escalating conflict in southern Gaza, Credits: Fatima Shbair / Associated Press

The World Health Organization reports that 25 of Gaza’s hospitals are non-functional due to fuel shortages, damage, and other issues, with the remaining 11 only partially operational. The situation exacerbates the challenges faced by medical staff in providing care amid the ongoing conflict.

International Response and Concerns

The international community, including Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner general of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, expressed concern over the civilian toll. Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden, in an op-ed, called for the reunification of Gaza and the West Bank under a revitalized Palestinian Authority, setting the stage for a peaceful two-state solution.

Humanitarian Crisis Unfolding

Gaza’s main power plant has been shut down, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. Critical infrastructure, including water treatment plants and sanitation facilities, relies on fuel-powered generators, but fuel shortages persist. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) received a limited fuel shipment, providing a brief respite for essential services.

Growing Frustration and Ongoing Hostilities

Gaza’s population is grappling with a lack of food supplies, contaminated water, and growing dehydration and malnutrition. The conflict’s toll extends beyond Gaza, with the West Bank witnessing casualties in Israeli strikes.

As the conflict rages on, the international community faces the challenge of addressing the immediate humanitarian crisis while working towards a sustainable resolution to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The coming days will reveal the extent of the impact on civilians and the effectiveness of ongoing evacuation efforts.

Gangtokian Web Team, 19/11/23

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