Israel-Hamas war: Palestinian health minister says 39 babies at risk of death in Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital

Palestinian Health Minister Mai al Kaila said that the Al Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip, which is the war-torn region’s biggest hospital, is under threat as it lacks oxygen, electricity, and fuel. Addressing a press conference, Health Minister al Kaila said, “Last night Al Shifa hospital was air struck by, according to what they told us, white phosphorus and as you might know that this is a type of weapon that is not permitted on an international level, and last night it was air struck with phosphorus, the hospital of Al Shifa.”

Al Kaila said Israeli forces were threatening the hospital’s medical staff to leave, as well as threatening to airstrike now and then. In a separate statement, the Palestinian health minister said that 39 babies were at risk in the hospital and one baby had died. 

Israel faces growing calls to protect civilians in Gaza 

On Saturday, Israel faced growing calls to protect civilians in Gaza as its war with Hamas intensified around hospitals where Palestinian civilians have been seeking refuge, a report by the news agency AFP said. A day back, Palestinian officials reported Israeli strikes and sniper fire at two hospitals and a school in Gaza.

Since the beginning of the war on October 7, Israel has denied targeting hospitals in Gaza and has accused Hamas of using the medical facilities as command centres and hideouts. But this allegation has been denied by the Palestinian militant group.

Earlier on Saturday, Doctors Without Borders said that it was extremely concerned about the safety of patients and medical staff at Al-Shifa. “Over the last few hours, the attacks against Al-Shifa Hospital have dramatically intensified,” the agency said, adding that its staff at the hospital reported a catastrophic situation inside.

Meanwhile, according to the United Nations, 20 of the total 36 hospitals in the Palestinian enclave were no longer functioning. 

Gaza’s health system on its knees: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the health care system in Gaza is “on its knees” and yet somehow is continuing to deliver lifesaving care. 

“Hospital corridors crammed with the injured, the sick, the dying; morgues overflowing; surgery without anaesthesia; tens of thousands of displaced people sheltering at hospitals,” WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the UN Security Council on Friday. 

Tedros said there had been more than 250 attacks on health care — such as strikes on hospitals, clinics, ambulances and patients — in Gaza and the West Bank, and 25 such attacks in Israel since the war started. 

“The best way to support those health workers and the people they serve is by giving them the tools they need to deliver that care — medicines, medical equipment and fuel for hospital generators,” he said, calling for an increase in aid trickling in through the Rafah crossing with Egypt and repeating the UN’s call for a ceasefire.

(With inputs from agencies)

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