Amidst the relentless bombardment, Israel’s military has taken the war to the very doorstep of al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital complex in Gaza. Within its walls, thousands of injured and displaced individuals find themselves trapped, their lives hanging by a thread. Muhammad Abu Salmiya, the director of al-Shifa Hospital, conveyed a harrowing message to Al Jazeera, revealing the imminent danger they face. With operations forced to halt due to the depletion of power and fuel, the hospital stands on the brink of catastrophe. The dire situation leaves those within its walls mere minutes away from the clutches of death.
According to Abu Salmiya, the buildings of al-Shifa Hospital are being deliberately targeted by Israeli forces, resulting in attacks on anyone within the hospital compound. He specifically mentioned a tragic incident where a member of the medical crew was shot and killed while trying to reach the incubator to assist the newborn babies. This heartbreaking incident led to the loss of both a baby in the incubator and a young man in the intensive care unit.
Dr Youssef Abu al-Reesh, the Gaza Deputy Health Minister, who is currently present at al-Shifa Hospital, informed Al Jazeera that the hospital is facing a severe crisis. All generators have been turned off, and there is no power source available within the hospital. This critical situation puts the lives of 39 newborns in the incubators at risk, as they are now fighting against death without the necessary support.
Furthermore, Dr Abu al-Reesh highlighted the presence of snipers positioned around the hospital compound, which restricts the movement of people inside. This lack of freedom of movement further exacerbates the already dire circumstances faced by the hospital staff and patients, making it even more challenging to provide the necessary medical care and assistance.
The hospital is engulfed in the sound of relentless gunfire, while the intensive care unit was struck by a mortar shell just moments ago. The scene is filled with blood, scattered across the floor, and the situation is so dire that cleaning it seems impossible, as expressed by the speaker.
Situated in the northern Rimal neighborhood and in close proximity to the port, al-Shifa transformed into a hospital in 1946 and has since undergone a series of expansions. This medical facility has emerged as a crucial resource for individuals in need of immediate medical assistance, serving as a lifeline for those seeking urgent care.
In the midst of Israel’s ongoing bombardment, numerous individuals who have been displaced from their homes are now seeking refuge in the hospital corridors and courtyard. However, Israel alleges that al-Shifa hospital is being utilized as a command center by Hamas, a claim that has been vehemently denied by the hospital’s director. Similarly, Hamas refutes these allegations and asserts that the facility is providing shelter to over 40,000 displaced individuals. According to Al Jazeera’s diplomatic correspondent James Bays, none of the hospital’s doctors or staff have witnessed any Hamas members within the premises for several years.
Furthermore, during his visit to the region, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, emphasized that even if there were any activities conducted by the Palestinian armed group beneath the hospital, Israel still bears the responsibility to safeguard civilians and uphold the principles of human rights. Failure to do so would constitute a violation of the laws of war.