WHO ‘extremely’ concerned about safety of patients, health workers in Gaza’s Al Shifa

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A World Health Organization spokesperson said on Friday that it was working on further evacuations from northern Gaza hospitals as soon as possible as a truce gets underway, voicing fears for the safety of those remaining in Al Shifa Hospital.

“We’re extremely concerned about the safety of the estimated 100 patients and health workers remaining at Al Shifa,” said WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier.

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He declined to react to comments from the Gaza health ministry saying it was suspending cooperation with the global health agency amid reports that Israel is holding medical staff for questioning.

A WHO statement on that is due later on Friday, he added.

Calls for aid

UN agencies also voiced hope that a shaky truce that got underway between Israel and Hamas on Friday would allow aid to flow to northern Gaza for the first time in weeks.

Aid agencies have said they are aiming to deliver supplies to the northern part of the Palestinian enclave where hospitals have collapsed due to Israeli bombings and lack of fuel and where there are major concerns about deyhydration and disease outbreaks.

“The United Nations can confirm that as I speak trucks with humanitarian supplies continues to cross into Gaza through the Rafah crossing point," said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for OCHA.

Asked whether the United Nations had guarantees from Israel that it could deliver aid to the north, Laerke said: “We proceed on the basis of the hope and the expectation that we will reach people in need, where they are.”

Tommaso Della Longa, spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies told Reuters that its local partner had a convoy of ambulances heading north to evacuate patients from Ahli Baptist Hospital.

“We do hope that this pause in the fighting will give us the possibility of reaching all the people in Gaza, including areas in the north where it was impossible to have access,” he said.

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