Death toll at Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital rises to 27 adults, seven babies: Ministry

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said Monday the death toll at Al-Shifa hospital rose to 34 since the weekend as the facility suffered fuel shortages.

The latest toll included 27 adult intensive care patients and seven babies, deputy health minister in the Gaza Strip, Youssef Abu Rish, said.

The hospitals in northern Gaza have been forced out of service amid fuel shortages and intense combat.

Israel argues its Hamas enemies built their military headquarters under the Al-Shifa hospital complex, while UN agencies and doctors in the facility warned a lack of generator fuel was claiming lives, including infants.

Witnesses reported intense overnight airstrikes, with tanks and armored vehicles just meters from the gate of the sprawling Al-Shifa compound at the heart of the Gaza City, now an urban war zone.

Gaza has been reliant on generators for over a month after Israel cut off power supplies following the October 7 attack and the besieged territory’s only power plant ran out of fuel.

Abu Rish told AFP all hospitals in the north of the embattled territory were “out of service.”

The World Health Organization in the Palestinian Territories said early Monday that at least 2,300 people — patients, health workers and people fleeing fighting — were inside the crippled Al-Shifa.

“There are dozens of dead and hundreds of wounded that no one can get to. Ambulances are at a standstill because they get shot at when they go out,” hospital director Muhammad Abu Selmiya told AFP.

The Israeli army pushed on with their campaign, determined to destroy Hamas whose gunmen it says killed at least 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took about 240 hostages in the country’s worst ever attack.
But Israel is facing intense international pressure to minimize civilian suffering amid its massive air and ground operation, which that authorities in Gaza say have killed 11,180 people, including 4,609 children.

Israel said 44 of its troops have been killed in the Gaza offensive.

Flags flew at half-mast at United Nations compounds across the globe on Monday, as staff observed a minute’s silence in memory of colleagues killed in Gaza during the Israel-Hamas conflict.

‘Maximum restraint’

The EU’s humanitarian aid chief Janez Lenarcic called Monday for “meaningful” pauses in the fighting and urgent deliveries of fuel to keep hospitals working in the territory.

“More than half of the hospitals in the Gaza Strip stopped working, primarily because of lack of fuel, and fuel is desperately needed,” Lenarcic said.

The Israeli army on Monday reported more heavy fighting and again stressed its claim that Hamas was hiding in civilian infrastructure.

“IDF (Israel Defense Forces) troops are continuing to conduct raids … targeting terrorist infrastructure located in central governmental institutions in the heart of the civilian population, including schools, universities, mosques and residences of terrorists,” it said.

Israeli forces had entered Gaza’s Abu Bakr mosque and found “a large number of explosive devices and flammable materials” as well as weapons, military equipment and Hamas operational plans, it said.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ruled out calls for a ceasefire, saying Hamas must first release the hostages.

Israelis are still stunned by the October 7 attack and preoccupied with the fate of those missing.

Netanyahu told US media that “there could be” a deal to free the hostages, but stopped short of providing any details, adding that “the less I say about it, the more I’ll increase the chances that it materializes.”

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told MSNBC there has been “active negotiation” on a potential deal but kept mum on any details.

A Palestinian official in Gaza speaking on condition of anonymity accused Israel of dragging its feet.

“Netanyahu is responsible for the delay and obstacles in reaching a preliminary agreement on the release of several prisoners,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

International concern

International attention has focused on the plight of Palestinians, and protests have been held worldwide in solidarity with the 2.4 million under bombardment and siege for more than five weeks.

About 980 trucks carrying humanitarian aid have been let into Gaza since October 21, according to the UN humanitarian agency.

Fuel has been a key need, especially for hospital generators, but Israel has been concerned that any fuel deliveries could be diverted to Hamas militants.

A Turkish vessel carrying materials for field hospitals arrived Monday in Egypt’s port of El Arish near the Rafah border crossing with Gaza.

Almost 1.6 million people — about two-thirds of Gaza’s population — have been internally displaced since October 7, according to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA.

Tens of thousands of Gazans have already fled from the north of the territory under Israeli orders.

But it is unclear what, if any, provisions there would be for the sick and injured to be transported from Al-Shifa.

Israel’s military said it would observe a “self-evacuation corridor” Monday, allowing people to move from Al-Shifa southward, but admitted the area was still the scene of “intense battles.”

The area of fighting “currently includes the area surrounding the Shifa hospital but not the hospital itself,” a spokesperson for IDF said.

The Israeli army also said its ground soldiers had hand-delivered 300 liters (80 gallons) of fuel near the hospital “for urgent medical purposes.”

The military shared grainy night-time footage of combat troops hauling jerry cans, leaving a dozen or more outside a building.

Al-Shifa director Mohammad Abu Salmiya said he told Israeli authorities he needed at least 8,000 liters to run the main generators and “save hundreds of patients and wounded, but they refused.”

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