The World Health Organization (WHO) is expressing deep concerns regarding the escalating crisis at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. Amidst ongoing conflicts, the hospital, known as Gaza’s largest medical facility, has reportedly faced multiple attacks, resulting in tragic consequences.
Loss of Communication and Humanitarian Crisis
WHO has lost all communication with its contacts at Al-Shifa Hospital, situated in northern Gaza. This loss of contact occurred amidst alarming reports of the hospital being under repeated attacks.
WHI says that, “The assumption is that the contacts, along with tens of thousands of displaced individuals seeking shelter at the hospital, have fled the area. Disturbingly, there are reports of people being shot at, wounded, and even killed while fleeing”.
Direct Impact on the Hospital
Over the past 48 hours, Al-Shifa Hospital has reportedly been attacked multiple times, leading to several fatalities and numerous injuries. The intensive care unit has suffered damage due to bombardment, and areas sheltering displaced people have also been impacted. A critical incident was reported where an intubated patient died following a temporary power outage.
“The medical team cannot work and the bodies, in their dozens, cannot be managed or buried,” according to an official with WHO states, “two newborns had already died on Saturday after the hospital’s fuel ran out and dozens more were at risk”.
Dire Situation Inside Al-Shifa
The hospital, currently surrounded by tanks, faces severe shortages, including clean water and fuel. The lack of fuel threatens the shutdown of essential medical services like ICUs, ventilators, and incubators, putting many lives at immediate risk. Staff inside the hospital are struggling to cope with the overwhelming number of patients, almost double the hospital’s capacity, while only providing emergency lifesaving care.
WHO’s Grave Concerns
The WHO is profoundly concerned about the safety of health workers, patients, and displaced people inside Al-Shifa Hospital. The patients include those on life support and babies in incubators. The organization emphasizes that patients seeking healthcare should not be exposed to danger and that health workers should not have to risk their lives to provide care.
Calls for Ceasefire and Protection Under International Law
In light of the escalating crisis, the WHO reiterates its call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to save lives and reduce suffering. It underscores that hospitals, patients, health staff, and individuals in health facilities are protected under the Geneva Conventions and International Humanitarian Law.
Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu is rejecting growing international calls for a ceasefire. “The war against (Hamas) is advancing with full force, and it has one goal, to win. There is no alternative to victory,” said Netanyahu on Israeli television on Saturday.
Urgent Plea for Medical Evacuations and Hostage Safety
WHO also urgently calls for the safe and unimpeded medical evacuation of critically injured and sick patients to Egypt via the Rafah Border Crossing. Moreover, the organization demands that all hostages receive appropriate medical care and be released unconditionally.
In conclusion, the situation at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza presents a dire humanitarian crisis. The WHO’s statement highlights the urgent need for international intervention and support to safeguard the lives of patients, healthcare workers, and displaced individuals caught in this devastating conflict.