The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Sunday that Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, is “not functioning as a hospital any more.”
“The situation is dire and perilous,” Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus wrote on social media. “It’s been 3 days without electricity, without water and with very poor internet which has severely impacted our ability to provide essential care. The constant gunfire and bombings in the area have exacerbated the already critical circumstances. Tragically, the number of patient fatalities has increased significantly.”
On Sunday, the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that Israeli bombardments and armed clashes around Shifa hospital “intensified” over the weekend, adding that the maternity ward and the cardiovascular facility had been damaged and at least three nurses had been killed.
OCHA added that some patients and staff were trapped inside the hospital while others had managed to flee.
On Monday Israeli Defense Forces released to journalists what it said was video of a man carrying a rocket-propelled grenade launcher at the entrance to Shifa hospital and aerial footage of what the IDF said was an RPG being launched at an IDF tank.
“After the terrorists fired RPGs, they returned to hide in the hospital,” the IDF said.
Another hospital in Gaza City, Al-Quds, was forced to shut down Sunday because it ran out of fuel. The Palestinian Red Crescent, which operates the facility, said Israeli forces were stationed nearby and that preparations were being made to evacuate some 6,000 patients, medical staff and displaced people.
Amid the Israel-Hamas war, hundreds of humanitarian aid trucks have crossed from Egypt into Gaza via the Rafah border crossing carrying food, water, medicines and medical supplies, but Israel has not yet allowed fuel to be delivered. Before giving the go-ahead, Israel reportedly wants to see each fuel tanker accompanied by a United Nations monitor team to ensure it goes to Gaza hospitals and not Hamas terrorists.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected called for a cease-fire before the release of some 240 hostages being held by Hamas, though he did agree last week to daily, four-hour pauses in the fighting aimed at allowing people to move to the south of Gaza and retrieve food and medicine.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has been urging a humanitarian pause in the fighting, said earlier this month that a longer-term ceasefire would only allow Hamas to regroup and carry out further attacks.