Israel Storms Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza, Newborns Among 2,300 Stuck Inside

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  • Israeli military says engaged in a firefight with Hamas militants as Al Shifa raid started 
  • Military says killed several Hamas militants in hospital raid 
  • Portable incubators delivered to Al Shiba hospital, says military 
  • Israel said it launched the raid because Hamas has a command centre underneath Al Shifa and uses connected tunnels to conceal military operations and to hold hostages. 
  • Israeli Army Radio said five militants had been killed and that weapons were found inside the Al Shifa compound. 
  • Global calls for a humanitarian ceasefire have mounted in recent days as Al Shifa became the focus of Israel’s war on Hamas. 
  • The U.S. said on Tuesday that its own intelligence supported Israel’s conclusions. 
  • Hamas has accused US President Joe Biden of being “wholly responsible” for the operations at the al-Shifa hospital. 

Israel has launched a “targeted operation” in Gaza’s biggest hospital it accuses Hamas of using as a command centre. The hospital is sheltering thousands of sick, displaced Gazans, and the move could intensify international criticism of Israel.

Israel troops said they are carrying out “a precise and targeted operation against Hamas” inside the al-Shifa hospital. The Israel Defence Forces in a statement said they had “conveyed to the relevant authorities in Gaza once again that all military activities within the hospital must cease within 12 hours. Unfortunately, it did not.” IDF has also asked the Hamas operatives at the hospital to surrender.

The United Nations estimates that at least 2,300 patients, staff, and displaced civilians are inside the facility, trapped by days of fierce fighting and aerial bombardments. The hospital was caring for 36 babies as of Tuesday, according to medical staff there who said there was no clear mechanism to move them despite an Israeli effort to supply incubators for an evacuation.

Three premature babies have already died since the al-Shifa hospital ran out of fuel over the weekend to power generators that had kept their incubators going.

Aid agencies and hospital staff have said that the situation is already “catastrophic” with medical procedures taking place without anaesthetic, families with scant food or water living in corridors, and the stench of decomposing corpses filling the air.

Both Israel and the United States have said that Hamas operatives have been using Gaza’s hospitals to hide command posts and hostages using underground tunnels.

Hamas has accused US President Joe Biden of being “wholly responsible” for the operations at the al-Shifa hospital.

Al Shifa is a sprawling complex of buildings and courtyards a few hundred metres from Gaza City’s fishing port. Buildings on the western side of the complex, which the Gaza official said was the site of the raid, include the internal medicine and dialysis departments.

Hamas says 650 patients and 5,000 to 7,000 other civilians are trapped inside the hospital grounds, under constant fire from Israeli snipers and drones. Amid shortages of fuel, water and supplies, it says 40 patients have died in recent days.

 Thirty-six babies were left from the neo-natal ward after three died. Without fuel for generators to power incubators, the babies were being kept as warm as possible, lined up eight to a bed.

The Israeli military said on Wednesday: “We can confirm that incubators, baby food and medical supplies brought by IDF tanks from Israel have successfully reached the Shifa hospital. Our medical teams and Arabic-speaking soldiers are on the ground to ensure that these supplies reach those in need.”

 

(With inputs from agencies)

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