Gaza's main hospital out of service as fuel runs out: Palestinian official

IANS Photo

IANS Photo

Gaza/Jerusalem, November 12 (IANS): Dozens of newborns were at risk of dying as the electricity powering the incubators at Gaza's largest Al- Shifa hospital was cut off, according to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Health Ministry.

Two babies have died while 37 other premature infants were at real risk, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel warned in a statement on Saturday, citing doctors at the hospital.

The medical complex has been out of service as a result of fuel shortage and Israeli attacks, confirmed Ashraf a-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

"All the sections and departments in Al-Shifa medical complex have been totally shut down as a result of the running out of fuel as well as the Israeli attacks," a-Qedra said in a press statement.

He warned that "we may witness an increase in the deaths among the patients, mainly children and those in serious health conditions".

Earlier on Saturday, the hospital director Mohammed Abu Selmeia said an Israeli airstrike also destroyed the main oxygen supply line of the hospital, posing a threat to the lives of the wounded and patients inside, Xinhua news agency reported.

Abu Selmeia noted that, in addition, Israeli drones are targeting anyone at the medical complex, rendering doctors unable to provide medical services.

In a post on the social media platform X, Doctors Without Borders, or Medecins Sans Frontieres, said, "The attacks against Al-Shifa hospital have dramatically intensified. Our staff at the hospital have reported a catastrophic situation inside."

On Saturday, Palestinian security sources said the Israeli army has besieged the Al-Shifa hospital amid heavy clashes with the Palestinian militants in the territory.

Local eyewitnesses said they heard massive explosions during the night before from violent armed clashes between Israeli army forces and militants of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, in several areas of Gaza City, especially in the vicinity of the Al-Shifa hospital.

Explaining the hospital's situation in a video statement on X, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) denied shooting and siege on the hospital, adding that the east side of the hospital remained open.

In the statement, IDF's Head of the Coordination and Liaison Administration for Gaza Moshe Tetro acknowledged that "there are clashes between IDF troops and Hamas terrorist operatives around the hospital," but said "everyone who wants to leave can do it," noting he had contacted the hospital director to coordinate with the safe evacuation of "anyone who wants to leave the hospital".

Israel has previously said that "the main command centre of Hamas is located under the Al-Shifa hospital".

Established in 1946, the medical complex is the largest health institution in the Gaza Strip. It includes three specialised hospitals and employs 25 per cent of hospital workers across the strip.