Israeli troops have initiated a “precise and targeted operation” within Gaza’s largest hospital, al-Shifa, accusing Hamas of utilizing the facility as a command center. The move, which comes amid already intense international criticism of Israel, raises concerns about the safety of thousands of sick and displaced Gazans seeking refuge in the hospital.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) issued a statement, stating, “We have conveyed to the relevant authorities in Gaza once again that all military activities within the hospital must cease within 12 hours. Unfortunately, it did not.” The IDF has also called on Hamas operatives at the hospital to surrender.
The United Nations estimates that over 2,300 patients, staff, and displaced civilians are currently trapped within the hospital due to days of fierce fighting and aerial bombardments. Among them are 36 babies, and the situation has become dire, with limited options for their evacuation.
Medical staff at al-Shifa said that three premature babies have already died since the hospital ran out of fuel for generators that powered their incubators over the weekend. The overall situation within the hospital has been described as “catastrophic,” with medical procedures conducted without anesthesia, families facing scarcity of food and water in corridors, and the smell of decomposing corpses filling the air.
Hospital director Mohammad Abu Salmiya said, “There are bodies littered in the hospital complex, and there is no longer electricity at the morgues.”
Both Israel and the United States have alleged that Hamas operatives are using Gaza’s hospitals as cover for command posts and hostages, utilizing underground tunnels for these activities.
In response, Hamas has pointed the finger at U.S. President Joe Biden, holding him “wholly responsible” for the operations at al-Shifa hospital.
In a statement, Hamas declared, “We hold the occupation (Israel) and President Biden wholly responsible for the assault on the Al-Shifa medical complex.”