The health care system in Gaza was unraveling as Israeli troops encircled the Palestinian territory’s largest hospital on Saturday and international humanitarian groups warned of a “point of no return.”
Over the last day, the Al Shifa Hospital has been hit multiple times, “including the maternity and outpatient departments, resulting in multiple deaths and injuries,” Doctors Without Borders said in aSaturday.
Fighting has intensified and supplies and fuel for generators have run out at Shifa Hospital, leading to the deaths of at least five people, including a premature baby, according to Medhat Abbas, a spokesperson for the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. Throughout Gaza, 20 of 36 hospitals are no longer functioning, the World Health Organization said Friday.
Abbas told Al Jazeera there are still 1,500 patients at Shifa, about 1,500 medical staff and between 15,000 and 20,000 displaced Palestinians seeking shelter after fleeing their homes.
Thewarned that “the healthcare system in Gaza has reached a point of no return,” and called for the protection of civilians and medical workers at hospitals.
“There is no electricity. Medical devices stopped. Patients, especially those in intensive care, started to die,” said Mohammed Abu Selmia, the director of Shifa, told the Associated Press.
Dr. Munir Al-Bursh, Director-General of the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health, toldon Saturday that doctors are providing artificial ventilation by hand for 36 babies they are caring for in the neonatal ward.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back Saturday on calls to do more to protect Palestinian civilians, saying the responsibility for their plight lies with Hamas. He cast blame on Hamas for preventing people from leaving when they were told to evacuate combat zones.
The Israeli military has said Hamas is using the hospital complex as cover for its operations. Hamas and hospital staff deny claims that Hamas has formed elaborate bunkers underneath the complex and used civilians sheltering there as human shields.
∎ Saudi Arabia hosted Muslim and Arab leaders in Riyadh on Saturday to discuss a strategy for the situation in Gaza.
∎ Six people were killed in a strike that hit a house in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the southern evacuation zone on Saturday, according to the Interior Ministry, which is run by Hamas.
∎ The Hamas-controlled Health Ministry reports more than 11,070 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, two-thirds of them women and children; the ministry does not distinguish between civilian and militant deaths.
∎ Israeli officials provided an updated death toll, most of the killings occurred on October 7. The estimate is 1,200 civilians and 41 soldiers have died in the conflict. Another 240 people remain captive after being taken hostage by Hamas.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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