Health officials said 31 premature babies were transferred from the Al-Shifa hospital complex in Gaza. Israel began a military operation inside the hospital Tuesday, following intel that militant group Hamas has a headquarters underneath the hospital.
Evacuations from Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital
The babies were in “extremely critical condition” and “have become potent symbols in the devastating war between Israel and Hamas,” The Associated Press reported. The hospital has been cut off from power since the operation began.
Media has followed the plight of the premature babies — a flashpoint in the war. The group originally included 39 babies. Eight have died. A UNICEF representative said it was in the “best interest” of the babies to be moved from the hospital in Gaza to one in Rafah, Egypt, per NBC News.
“The lives of these newborn babies, very fragile babies, were at risk,” UNICEF representative Majed Altwal said, per NBC News.
A total of 28 of the babies arrived in Egypt — one baby was discharged in Gaza and the other two stayed at the Emirati Hospital’s ICU unit in southern Gaza, according to CNN.
A World Health Organization team said plans were underway to evacuate other patients who are in critical condition that remain in the hospital. Most of them have experienced amputations, burns or other war-related trauma, per AP.
Israeli hostage negotiations nearing a possible deal
Hostage negotiations are inching closer to a deal, having “reached a very sensitive stage” in getting back the more than 200 Israelis and foreign nationals who were taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7, ABC News reported.
Negotiations would involve Hamas releasing 50 women and children who are being held hostage in exchange for the same number of Palestinian women and children who are currently detained in Israeli prisons. It would also involve pausing fighting for “several days,” The New York Times reported.
Hamas is also calling for Israel to allow fuel shipments into Gaza to struggling hospitals, per the Times.
There are little details on the state of the hostages, but officials strongly believe most of them are still alive, per ABC News.
“(S)ome of the gaps have now narrowed. Some of the issues that were at odds have now been closed out,” President Joe Biden’s deputy national security adviser, Jon Finer, told ABC News. “But we are not finished — there is not yet a deal in place. And I think it would be premature to conclude that this is inevitable given how close we have come in the past.”