• Saturday, 13 April 2024

Intense fighting around Gaza hospitals as 28 babies taken to Egypt

Intense fighting around Gaza hospitals as 28 babies taken to Egypt

Tel Aviv, 20 November 2023 (dpa/MIA) - There was intense fighting reported around hospitals in the Gaza Strip on Monday as more than two dozen premature babies were transferred across the border for treatment in Egypt.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said ambulances departed on Monday from Gaza's Emirati Hospital carrying 28 babies to Egypt's Rafah crossing.

Footage on Egypt's al-Qahera News showed each baby transferred into an incubator and then into an Egyptian ambulance. The babies were taken to hospitals in Cairo and North Sinai.

On Sunday, the premature babies were taken from the besieged al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza to the Emirati Hospital in the southern part of the enclave. Two babies died before the evacuation got under way.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that doctors in Gaza said all the babies are fighting serious infections due to lack of medical supplies, and several are in critical condition.

None of the infants were accompanied by relatives as close family members could not be found, the WHO said, citing Palestinian medical officials.

After six weeks of war, Gaza's remaining hospitals are collapsing due to a shortage of supplies while being overwhelmed by huge numbers of injured.

An Israeli siege on Gaza has heavily restricted access to food, water and electricity. Fuel to run backup generators for hospitals is in extremely short supply. The first fuel truck since the war started began to enter late last week, but supplies remain scarce.

Fighting is also raging around some of the hospitals.

At least 70 people have died at a hospital in the southern Gaza Strip following a nearby Israeli airstrike, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said.

Dozens of patients, including children and adolescents, had to be treated for "severe burns" at the Nasser medical complex, the organization said late Sunday, citing its staff at the hospital.

The strike in the city of Khan Younis took place 1 kilometre away from the hospital, the group said. A total of 122 patients arrived at the hospital in the immediate aftermath.

"The hospital is overflowing," MSF said.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry said on Monday that 12 people were killed in Israeli shelling of the Indonesian Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip

Several patients and their companions were among the dead, the ministry's spokesman, Ashraf al-Qudra, said, adding that dozens more were injured.

The information from Hamas could not be immediately verified.

Witnesses reported that Israeli tanks were stationed not far from the hospital.

Al-Qudra said 200 employees and thousands of displaced people are still in the hospital.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi call the attacks on the hospital "a clear violation of international law."

"All countries, especially those that have close relations with Israel, must use all their influence and capabilities to urge Israel to stop its atrocities," she added. 

Israel has long accused Hamas of using hospitals and other civilian sites to establish command posts and hide weapons.

The army has said that it believes the Indonesian Hospital was built on a Hamas tunnel system, similar to the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Al-Shifa, the strip's main hospital, has been in the spotlight for weeks after coming under Israeli bombardment.

Israeli troops launched raids inside al-Shifa last week. The army said weapons and a Hamas command node were found there. It also said several hostages were temporarily taken to al-Shifa, according to surveillance video obtained by troops.

The Israel-Hamas war erupted on October 7 with Hamas massacring 1,200 people in Israel and taking some 240 others hostages. An air and ground offensive by Israel has killed some 13,000 people in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.

Palestinian militants once again fired rockets at southern Israel on Monday, triggering air-raid sirens.

Meanwhile, militants in Lebanon and Israeli troops once again traded strikes on each other's positions. Sirens wailed on Monday in the Israeli town of Kiriat Shmona, but there were no immediate reports of causalities.

Since the beginning of the Gaza war, there have been repeated confrontations between the Israeli army and the Shia militia Hezbollah on the border between Israel and Lebanon, raising the spectre of a wider war.

But the focus remains firmly on Gaza, where the UN said aid has been reaching only the people in the southern part of the strip for the past almost two weeks, as a result of the precarious security situation.

Aid cannot be distributed in Gaza City and other parts of the north, where hundreds of thousands of people are still holding out, the UN humanitarian affairs agency OCHA said.

According to the agency, people in the north are surviving on what little raw vegetables and unripe fruit that they can find, with many unable to cook. Bakeries are no longer operating, and farmers are unable to tend their fields. Animals are being slaughtered, as there is no feed or water for them.

The OCHA said fuel supplies had allowed a few pumps for drinking water supply and sewage disposal to start up again after being knocked offline about a week ago. But the amount of fuel is sufficient for only about a day's worth of operations, the agency said.

Photo: Anadolu