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Gaza: WHO chief says Shifa no longer functioning as hospital

Gaza: WHO chief says al-Shifa no longer functioning as hospital
29 min read
12 November, 2023
The biggest hospital in the Gaza Strip, al-Shifa, is no longer functioning as a hospital, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said.

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Israeli tanks surround al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, which has been completely cut off and now faces a blackout as the last generator ran out on Saturday, according to hospital director Muhammad Abu Salmiya. Up to 15,000 people, who are either patients in need of treatment or those who have sought shelter in the hospital grounds, are now trapped.

"Patients are dying by the minute, victims and wounded are also dying, even babies in incubators," Salmiya told Al Jazeera.

The head of the World Health Organization said late on Sunday that al-Shifa was no longer functioning as a hospital.

"The world cannot stand silent while hospitals, which should be safe havens, are transformed into scenes of death, devastation, and despair," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus posted on social media platform X.

According to Haaretz, the Israeli military told the hospital that it was now considered a military zone and told the hospital, the biggest in the Gaza Strip, to evacuate. It has faced intense Israeli bombardment for three consecutive days. The Israeli military are allegedly attacking anyone who moves outside the hospital, leading to the shooting of an ICU nurse in the maternity ward by sniper fire.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that it has lost all communication with its contacts inside al-Shifa, while they have reported that those attempting to flee the hospital have been "have been shot at, wounded and even killed".

Gaza authorities said Sunday the death toll from Israel's war on the besieged Palestinian enclave had risen to 11,180.

The government media office said the dead included 4,609 children and 3,100 women, whilst a further 28,200 people have been wounded.

The siege of al-Shifa comes as Israel's ground invasion of Gaza intensifies, with medical facilities across the Palestinian enclave coming under attack.

This included attacks on al-Nasr Hospital on Saturday that destroyed its maternity wing. Other healthcare facilities that have come under Israeli attack include the Indonesian Hospital, al-Awda Hospital, al-Quds Hospital, and Rantisi Children's Hospital.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society on Saturday announced al-Quds Hospital was no longer operational due to fuel depletion and the outage of power.

Israel's attacks on hospitals appear to have worsened as it tries to destroy the civil infrastructure in northern Gaza to force the population to flee to the south. But even fleeing is perilous, with Israel carrying out air strikes on all the roads leading to the Salah ad-Din road, the main "escape route" for civilians heading south.

Many areas of southern Gaza have come under relentless Israeli assault.