More than 20 patients died in Gaza Al-Shifa Hospital over the past two days as Israeli forces continue to raid the facility, according to a hospital official and the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza.
The Health Ministry said Friday that 24 patients died in the past 48 hours due to power outages at the hospital, which has been out of service since Saturday due to a fuel shortage.
“Twenty-four patients in different departments died in the last 48 hours as vital medical equipment stopped working due to the power outage,” Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-said on Friday. Qudra.
Muhammad Abu Salmiya, director of al-Shifa Hospital, told Al Jazeera that 22 patients died overnight.
The health facility has become the center of Israel’s ground offensive in northern Gaza, with special forces combing it since Wednesday, amid growing international concern over the fate of hundreds of patients and thousands of civilians who seek refuge there.
Israel claimed Hamas fighters were using a tunnel complex beneath the hospital to stage attacks. Hamas and hospital officials have repeatedly denied these claims.
Israel said its forces found a vehicle with a large number of weapons and an underground structure it called a Hamas tunnel shaft, after two days of searching the scene.
The army also said it found the bodies of two hostages in buildings near the hospital compound, but not inside.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said the raid destroyed medical services at the hospital, where the UN estimated 2,300 patients, staff and displaced Palestinians had sheltered before Israeli troops arrived.
Al-Shifa staff said a premature baby died at the hospital on Friday, the first baby to die there in the two days after Israeli forces entered.
Three of them had died in the previous days while the hospital was surrounded by Israeli forces.
Muhammad Abu Salmiya, director of al-Shifa Hospital, told Al Jazeera that the medical complex has become a “big prison” and a “mass grave” for all those there.
“We find ourselves with nothing: no electricity, no food, no water. With every minute that passes, we lose a life. Overnight we lost 22 people and for three days the hospital remained under siege,” Salmiya said.
Severe lack of fuel
Israel imposed a strict blockade and launched a military attack on Gaza last month after Hamas carried out an attack on southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people and taking around 240 others hostage, according to Israeli officials .
The Israeli air and ground attack killed more than 12,000 people, including 5,000 children, according to Palestinian authorities in Gaza.
Now in its seventh week, the Israeli siege has severely restricted the supply of food, water, electricity and fuel to the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million residents, with aid agencies warning of a humanitarian crisis in the territory .
Israel said it had agreed to a US request to allow two tanker trucks a day into Gaza, following a UN warning that shortages had disrupted aid deliveries and exposed the population at risk of starvation. The amount is about half of what the UN has said it needs to provide vital functions for hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza, including water systems, hospitals, bakeries and its trucks delivering food. ‘help.
The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) said earlier that its aid trucks were unable to enter Gaza from Egypt for a second consecutive day on Friday due to lack of fuel and supplies. a near-total communications blackout that began Thursday.
UNRWA said it would be unable to “manage or coordinate humanitarian convoys” due to the telecommunications outage.
Almost total collapse
More than half of Gaza’s hospitals are no longer functional due to fighting, damage or shortages, and the Israeli raid on al-Shifa caused significant damage to radiology, burn and dialysis units, said Hamas.
Living conditions for Palestinian civilians are rapidly deteriorating, the UN has warned.
More than 1.5 million people have been internally displaced, and Israel’s blockade of the territory means “civilians face an immediate possibility of starvation,” said World Food Program director Cindy McCain.
UNRWA said 70 percent of the population does not have access to clean water in southern Gaza, where sewage has started flowing into the streets.
UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini described children hosted at a UN school “begging for a sip of water or a loaf of bread”.