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Gaza: Babies evacuated from Al-Shifa, death toll over 13,000

Gaza war: 31 premature babies evacuated from Al-Shifa Hospital, death toll surpasses 13,000
22 min read
19 November, 2023
The World Health Organisation said it successfully evacuated 31 babies from Al-Shifa Hospital to a medical facility in southern Gaza. The death toll in the devastated enclave since 7 October has now surpassed 13,000.

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The World Heath Organisation (WHO) has successfully evacuated 31 premature babies from Al-Shifa Hospital to the south of Gaza "in preparation for their transfer to the Emirates Hospital in Rafah", in coordination with United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Pictures released showed the babies receiving medical care and assistance as they arrived south of the war-hit territory.

WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the organisation is planning further evacuation missions to transfer remaining patients from Al-Shifa, which has been under Israeli siege for over a week.

has called Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital a "death zone" as it said it would be evacuating its last remaining patients amid Israeli attacks on the facility.

The assessment came after a visit by WHO and other UN officials to the hospital, which is the biggest in Gaza.

It said it was planning "the immediate evacuation of the remaining patients, staff and their families", warning, however, that nearby facilities were already overstretched and urging an immediate ceasefire given the "extreme suffering of the people of Gaza".

On Saturday, hundreds of people fled the hospital on foot on orders from the Israeli army, according to the medical facility's director.

Israel justifies its raiding of the hospital to target Hamas, who it accuses of using the hospital as a headquarters. The claims have been denied by the Palestinian group, as well as Al-Shifa's director.

The hospital, which has been under an Israeli siege for over a week, has a mass grave at the entrance and nearly 300 patients left inside with 25 health workers.

Among the patients are 29 Palestinians with serious spinal injuries who cannot move without medical assistance, while others have infected wounds due to lack of antibiotics.

There are also 32 babies in "extremely critical condition," WHO said.

Meanwhile, Israeli strikes have also targeted the southern Gaza Strip, despite Israel imposing an evacuation order there.

Israeli shelling hit the Nusseirat camp and Khan Younis, killing over 31 Palestinians, according to reports, where residential buildings have been levelled to the ground.

Israeli has killed at least 12,300 Palestinians since 7 October in a brutal military campaign that has claimed the lives of mostly civilians. At least 5,000 children are among those killed, while around 1.6 million people in Gaza are displaced due to Israel bombing and a deadly ground offensive.