Health care issues grow in Gaza as fighting nears major hospital
Israeli tanks and troops have blockaded the area completely starting Monday, controlling who can come in or out of the hospital
Health care issues continue to plague Gaza as facilities continue to be cut off from electricity and fuel.
Hundreds of patients and thousands of people have been sheltering in place in the Al-Shifa hospital complex, the Gaza Strip’s largest hospital. The New York Times reported “that patients at Al-Shifa were dying because of power at the hospital.”
“The situation here is catastrophic in every sense of the word,” Jihan Miqdad, a head nurse in the emergency room at Al-Shifa, told the Times in a phone interview.
Israeli tanks and troops have blockaded the area completely starting Monday, controlling who can come in or out of the hospital, according to Reuters.
At least 32 patients have died in the hospital in the past three days “as a result of the siege of the hospital and lack of power,” Reuters reported.
What is so important about the Al-Shifa hospital?
Heavy fighting continues outside the hospital walls between Israel and Hamas. Israel claims Hamas is housing a headquarters below the hospital.
According to the Geneva Convention, hospitals are considered neutralized zones intended to shelter the wounded, the sick and civilians during times of conflict. For a hospital to be attacked, a military group has to have substantial evidence to prove war operations or war leaders are hiding within the hospital in order to attack.
One unnamed U.S. official says Hamas has a command node under the hospital, per CNN.
“You can see even from open-source reporting that Hamas does use hospitals, along with a lot of other civilian facilities, for command-and-control, for storing weapons, for housing its fighters,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on CNN’s State of the Union. “Without getting into this specific hospital or that specific claim, this is Hamas’ track record, both historically and in this conflict.”
Israel argues that “it is justified in taking military action around the hospital” and announced that it “has created evacuation corridors and called for the removal of civilians,” per CNN.
What does Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say about the conflict?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the military’s actions around the hospital and said Israeli forces were “proceeding as quickly as we can but also as carefully as we can because we want to minimize civilian casualties and we want to minimize casualties on our side,” he told NBC News.
More than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war on Oct. 7, and at least 1,200 Israelis have been killed with more than 230 who were taken hostage.
Israel has agreed to daily pauses in fighting in order to allow for evacuations to take place but has so far rejected pleas for a cease-fire.