Israel bombards Gaza, with biggest functioning hospital under siege

February 17, 2024 3:53 pm

[Source: Reuters]

Gaza’s largest functioning hospital was under siege on Friday in Israel’s war with Islamist group Hamas, leaving patients and doctors helpless in the chaos as warplanes struck Rafah, the last refuge for Palestinians in the enclave, officials said.

Israeli forces remained in Nasser Hospital in the town of Khan Younis after raiding it early Thursday.

The Gaza Health Ministry said five intensive care patients died on Friday due to power outages and lack of oxygen supply caused by the attack.

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Israel said it moved into the hospital because Hamas militants were hiding there.

The Israeli military said on Friday its troops detained more than 20 militants in the hospital who participated in the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel and dozens of others for questioning. Hamas denies there were militants in the hospital, describing the claim as “lies aimed to cover up for destroying hospitals.”

The Gaza Health Ministry said the hospital lost power and remained without electricity on Friday, jeopardising patient care. But the Israeli military said it repaired one generator and provided another, ensuring “all vital systems continued to operate.”

Two pregnant women gave birth on Friday “under tough conditions — no water, no food and no way of warming them up” in cold weather, said ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra.

The ministry said Israeli forces inside Nasser Hospital forced women and children into the maternity department, which it turned into a military area. Women were not allowed to take any of their belongings.

According to the ministry, Israeli soldiers stopped an aid convoy outside the hospital, which was unable to deliver supplies. The military said it provided aid including baby food and water.

The incursion at the hospital raised alarm about patients, medical workers and displaced Palestinians sheltering there.

“There are still critically injured and sick patients that are inside the hospital,” said Tarik Jasarevic, spokesperson for the World Health Organization, which said its staff was trying to reach the hospital after the Israeli raid.

“There is an urgent need to deliver fuel to ensure the continuation of the provision of life-saving services.”