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Gaza health ministry says 24 die at Al-Shifa Hospital due to power cuts

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The Hamas-controlled health ministry said Friday that 24 patients at a hospital in war-torn Gaza had died within 48 hours due to power outages, as Israeli forces searched the complex for Hamas hideouts.

The announcement came shortly after Israel agreed to a US request to allow two fuel trucks a day into Gaza, following a UN warning that shortages had halted aid deliveries and put people at risk of starvation.

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The situation was dire at the Al-Shifa hospital, the largest in Gaza, which Israel’s army said it was searching for a third day for suspected hideouts of fighters from the movement’s armed wing.

Hamas rejects an Israeli charge that it has a command center at the hospital, where thousands of people, including wounded patients and premature babies, are believed to be inside. The hospital also denies the claim.

Israel has vowed to “crush” Hamas in response to the group’s October 7 attack, when it broke through Gaza’s militarized border to kill about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and take about 240 hostage, according to Israeli officials.

The army’s air and ground campaign has killed 12,000 people, including 5,000 children, according to Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007.

“Twenty-four patients... have died over the last 48 hours” at Al-Shifa hospital “as vital medical equipment has stopped functioning because of the power outage”, Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.

In response to a US request, Israel’s war cabinet unanimously agreed to “provide two tankers of fuel a day to run the wastewater treatment facilities... which are facing collapse due to the lack of electricity”, national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said.

“We took that decision to prevent the spread of epidemics. We don’t need epidemics that will harm civilians or our fighters. If there are epidemics, the fighting will stop,” he said.

A senior US official said Washington had exerted huge pressure on Israel for weeks to allow fuel in through the Rafah crossing from Egypt, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken making clear Israel needed to act immediately to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said 70 percent of people have no access to clean water in south Gaza, where raw sewage had started to flow on the streets.

Under the deal, which is to start on Saturday, 140,000 liters (37,000 gallons) of fuel will be allowed in every 48 hours, of which 20,000 liters will be purely to power communications generators, the US official said.

It comes after aid trucks were unable to enter Gaza from Egypt for two straight days due to the lack of fuel and a near-total communications blackout.

Read more:

Aid supplies to Gaza halted again due to shortages of fuel, communications shutdown

Israel to allow two fuel trucks a day into Gaza for UN needs

Fear grows for patients inside Gaza hospital, cut off since Israeli forces entered

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