The Israel-Hamas conflict has entered its sixth week, escalating tensions and forcing thousands of Palestinians to flee from what was once considered safe havens – hospitals in northern Gaza.
The battles around these medical facilities have left critically wounded patients, newborns, and caregivers stranded, facing dwindling supplies and a lack of electricity. The plight of these hospitals has become a symbol of the broader war, with both sides using the crisis to underscore their positions.
Amid Israeli forces engaging in the heart of Gaza City, the territory’s central city, the focus has shifted to the dire situation within hospitals.
Accusations have emerged, with Israel claiming that Hamas is using hospitals as cover for fighters, including the largest hospital in Gaza, Shifa.
Gaza Hospitals Face Humanitarian Crisis
However, no visual evidence has been provided to substantiate these allegations, and both Hamas and Shifa Hospital staff vehemently deny the accusations.
The Israeli military released footage showing its forces entering a children’s hospital over the weekend, revealing weapons found inside and suggesting the presence of militants holding hostages. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the army’s chief spokesperson, accused Hamas of using hospitals as instruments of war, emphasizing their alleged role in the conflict.
Shifa Hospital, encircled by Israeli troops for days, has become a focal point of the crisis. Thousands of people have evacuated the hospital, including displaced individuals and patients able to move.
The United Nations reports that only one hospital in northern Gaza is still operational, while others have shut down due to nearby fighting lack of fuel, power, water, and medicine.
Shifa’s staff, running low on supplies, has been performing surgeries, including on children, without anesthesia.
Now with around 650 patients and 500 staff, the hospital is struggling to function. With power for incubators gone, a photo released by the Health Ministry in Gaza shows premature babies wrapped in blankets on a bed. The situation is critical, with the risk of casualties escalating.
US President Joe Biden has called for protecting Shifa, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding hospitals. To address the crisis, the Israeli military announced it had begun transferring incubators from Israel to Shifa, though details about delivery and power sources remain unclear.
The International Committee of the Red Cross attempted to evacuate 6,000 individuals from another hospital, Al-Quds, after it shut down due to fuel shortages.
However, the convoy had to turn back amid ongoing shelling and fighting. Israel released a video alleging a militant presence at Al-Quds Hospital.
The conflict has taken a heavy toll on Gaza’s civilian population, with over two-thirds of its 2.3 million people fleeing their homes. Challenges abound for those who make it south, including overflowing U.N.-run shelters, paralyzed water treatment systems, and a lack of fuel for generators, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.