The United Nations and the Red Cross voiced alarm Wednesday after Israeli forces raided Gaza’s largest hospital, demanding that thousands of patients and civilians there be protected.
Israeli forces raided Al-Shifa hospital Wednesday morning, where the UN estimates that at least 2,300 people – patients, staff and displaced civilians – are inside and may be unable to escape because of fierce fighting.
Israel said it was targeting what they say is a Hamas command center in tunnels beneath thousands of patients and civilians seeking refuge from intense combat – a claim that both Hamas and the hospital’s doctors have repeatedly denied.
“I’m appalled by reports of military raids in Al Shifa hospital in Gaza,” UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said on X, formerly Twitter.
“The protection of newborns, patients, medical staff and all civilians must override all other concerns,” he said.
I am deeply disturbed by the horrible situation and dramatic loss of life in several hospitals in Gaza.— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) November 14, 2023
In the name of humanity, I call for an immediate humanitarian cease fire.
“Hospitals are not battlegrounds.”
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus agreed.
“Reports of military incursion into Al-Shifa hospital are deeply concerning,” he wrote on X, warning that the UN health agency had “lost touch again with health personnel at the hospital”.
“We’re extremely worried for their and their patients’ safety.”
Reports of military incursion into Al-Shifa hospital are deeply concerning.— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) November 15, 2023
We’ve lost touch again with health personnel at the hospital.
We’re extremely worried for their and their patients’ safety.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement that it was “extremely concerned about the impact on sick and wounded people, medical staff, and civilians”.
“All measures to avoid any consequences on them must be taken,” it said, insisting that “patients, medical staff, and civilians must be at all times protected”.
The ICRC added that it was “in contact with all concerned authorities and we continue to closely monitor the situation”.
Israel has been relentlessly launching attacks on the Gaza Strip – home to 2.3 million – after it vowed to crush Hamas following the October 7 incursion into southern Israel.
The health ministry in Gaza says Israel’s ensuing air and ground offensive have killed 11,320 people, including thousands of children.
Al-Shifa is a key target in Israel’s campaign.
Witnesses have described horrific conditions inside the hospital, with medical procedures taking place without anesthetic, families with scant food or water living in corridors and the stench of decomposing corpses filling the air.
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