Gaza’s main hospital collapsed Saturday as Israeli forces surrounded it and a power outage killed a premature baby in an incubator and at least four other patients, director says hospital and the Gaza Ministry of Health.
Without fuel to run the generators, Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City is plunged into darkness and its medical equipment no longer works. For weeks – as Israel cut off fuel and electricity supplies – the hospital relied on backup generators and a dwindling fuel reserve.
“Surgeries had to be stopped,” said hospital director Dr Mohammed Abu Salmiya. “Kidney dialysis is stopped and the neonatal unit is in a very dire situation. A baby died due to lack of oxygen, electricity and heat.
Medical staff had to perform manual artificial respiration on some patients in intensive care for several hours after the outage cut off ventilators, said Medhat Abbas, director general of Gaza’s health ministry.
Over the past few days, Israel’s ground invasion of the territory has spread deeper into Gaza City, slowly closing in on the hospitals that have served as shelter for tens of thousands of people. Israel says the hospitals protect Hamas’s military operations in the tunnels below.
In Al-Shifa, thousands of seriously ill and injured patients and displaced people have been trapped inside while Israeli tanks and troops surround the compounds, with snipers occasionally firing shots, according to the Ministry of Health, doctors and some witnesses sheltering indoors.
Nearby, intense and close fighting pitted Israeli troops and fighters from Hamas, the Palestinian armed group that controls Gaza.
The Israeli military has repeatedly urged patients and people housed in hospitals in Gaza City to be evacuated south, away from urban fighting. Four hospitals in the city were evacuated on Friday.
But some of those who tried to leave Al-Shifa on Saturday, including a family, were shot by snipers they thought were Israeli, and at least one person was killed, according to several people at Al-Shifa hospital, including Dr. Abou Salmiya.
On Saturday, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, an Israeli army spokesman, denied that Israeli forces had besieged Al-Shifa and said troops would provide safe passage for people able to evacuate along the eastern side of the city. ‘hospital. He said Israeli troops were not attacking the hospital itself, but confirmed that Israel was fighting Hamas fighters “who choose to fight next to Al-Shifa Hospital.”
Al-Shifa houses dozens of other premature babies in incubators that no longer work, said Dr. Nasser Bulbul, head of the hospital’s premature and newborn department.
“We have to transport the babies in blankets and sheets to another building,” he explained, where there was some electricity to power the incubators. He added that it was even dangerous to move from one building to another inside the medical complex.
Admiral Hagari said Saturday evening that the Israeli military would help transfer the babies out of Al-Shifa, but the hospital director said that was not planned.
“The staff at Shifa Hospital requested that tomorrow we help the babies from the pediatric ward go to a safer hospital,” Admiral Hagari said in a televised news conference. “We will provide the necessary assistance.”
“These statements are completely false,” Dr Abu Salmiya said afterwards. There is no safer hospital or coordination like this, he said.
On Saturday, the Palestinian Red Crescent warned that Al-Quds Hospital, another major hospital in Gaza City, was at risk of closing because it was running out of fuel to power generators. The hospital accommodates 500 patients, the Red Crescent said.
Israeli tanks and military vehicles have surrounded Al-Quds hospital and are shelling the building, the Red Crescent said.
Mahmoud Abu Harbed, a resident of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, has been hospitalized at Al-Shifa Hospital for over a month. He said Saturday that his home was hit by Israeli airstrikes early in the war, injuring his brother, and that they fled to hospital for treatment and shelter.
“Everyone is on top of each other, the displaced, the injured, even the medical staff,” he said. “They try to save this or that person, but they can’t. There is no electricity, no medicine, nothing,” he added.
“People are afraid, but we pray that God protects us. »
Rawan Sheikh Ahmad And Aaron Boxerman reports contributed.