Israel-Hamas War: Communication lost with Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital, says WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Sunday, November 12 reported that it has lost contact with Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, ANI reported.

Al-Shifa Hospital has received international attention after reports of individuals fleeing the hospital being allegedly shot, wounded, or killed. The facility has been under repeated attacks, and the latest information suggests it is surrounded by tanks.

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Earlier, the Chief Israeli military spokesperson Admiral Daniel Hagari, said that the military will facilitate the evacuation of children who are currently trapped in Gaza’s Al Shifa Hospital on the upcoming Sunday. “The staff of the Shifa hospital has requested that tomorrow we help the babies in the pediatric department to get to a safer hospital. We will provide the assistance needed,” Hagari told a news conference, as reported by Reuters.

Concerns for Safety

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed deep concern for the safety of health workers, hundreds of patients, including babies on life support, and displaced individuals still inside the hospital.

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He wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter). “WHO is gravely concerned about the safety of health workers, hundreds of sick and injured patients, including babies on life support, and displaced people who remain inside the hospital. WHO again calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza as the only way to save lives and reduce the horrific levels of suffering. WHO also calls for the sustained, orderly, unimpeded, and safe medical evacuations of critically injured and sick patients. All hostages must receive appropriate medical care and be released unconditionally.”

Recent Developments

Three babies died in the neonatal unit of Al-Shifa Hospital located in northern Gaza after the hospital went “out of service” amid continuous Israeli fire in the vicinity, CNN reported quoting the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health on Saturday.

It reported quoting Dr. Munir Al-Bursh, Director-General of the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health that the doctors in the neonatal ward are now being forced to carry out artificial respiration by hand on the 36 babies that they are treating in the hospital.

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Meanwhile, the Palestinian health ministry said on Saturday that 39 babies are at risk of death in Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital after electricity was cut off and amid a lack of oxygen and medicine. The ministry sent out a statement correcting remarks made by Health Minister Mai al-Kaila in a televised press conference in which she said “39 infants died in the modern care for children department because they couldn’t get oxygen or medicine to them and electricity was cut off.”

On the international front, Saudi Arabia and several other Muslim nations on Saturday, November 11, collectively urged for an immediate halt to military operations in Gaza. They dismissed Israel’s rationale for its actions against Palestinians, asserting that it was not justified as self-defence, Reuters reported.

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The joint Islamic-Arab summit in Riyadh urged the International Criminal Court to investigate “war crimes and crimes against humanity that Israel is committing” in the Palestinian territories, according to a final communique, according to Reuters. Among those present were Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who was reinstated into the Arab League earlier this year.

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Updated: 12 Nov 2023, 02:31 PM IST

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