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Death toll in Gaza surges towards 12,000 as WHO says the main hospital ‘is not functioning’

AS THE death toll in Gaza approaches 12,000, including nearly 5,000 children, the Al-Shifa hospital came under fierce attack from Israeli forces yesterday.

While thousands have fled the bombardment of Gaza’s largest hospital, hundreds of patients, including dozens of babies, remain in the bombed out building at risk of dying because of a lack of electricity as well as a lack of medical and food supplies.

The Israeli military said that it had placed gallons of fuel near the hospital to help power its generators, but Hamas fighters had prevented staff from reaching it. 

The Health Ministry in Gaza disputed that and said the fuel would have provided less than an hour of electricity.

World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a post on social media that Shifa has been without water for three days and “is not functioning as a hospital anymore.”

The fighting was triggered by Hamas’s surprise October 7 cross-border attack on Israel and Israel’s response which many experts and observers have condemned as collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

Israel alleges, without evidence, that the hospital is being used by Hamas as a human shield and that a command centre and other military infrastructure has been set up beneath the medical compound. 

Hamas and hospital staff deny those allegations.

Mohammed Zaqout, the director of hospitals in Gaza, says there are about 650 patients and critically wounded people in Shifa being treated by 500 medical staff. 

He estimated that 2,500 displaced Palestinians are sheltering inside hospital buildings.

The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) indicated that in the last 24 hours three nurses have died due to Israeli attacks.

Previously, the OCHA had reported the death of two premature babies and 10 other patients in the medical complex facilities.

“Some internally displaced persons, staff and patients have managed to flee, but others remain trapped inside,” highlights the document from the UN office, recalling that the lives of 36 babies in incubators and patients with kidney problems on dialysis are at risk.

The Al Quds hospital in Gaza stopped operating on Sunday due to lack of fuel and electricity, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

According to the OCHA, 20 of the 36 hospitals in the Gaza Strip are “out of service” due to lack of supplies.

 

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