Hundreds of medical staff, patients and displaced civilians have been forced to evacuate Al-Shifa, Gaza’s biggest hospital, as Israeli forces continue to zone in on the hospital.
The hospital has become a central target for the Israeli military, which it says Hamas is using as a command center – a claim it has yet to prove.
The Israeli military raided the hospital for two days in a row on Wednesday Nov. 15 and 16 after laying siege to the building for days, trapping more than 1,000 medical staff, patients and displaced civilians inside without food, water and electricity.
On Saturday Nov. 18, about 1,000 to 1,500 people were forced to flee the hospital, leaving only about 125 seriously injured patients, five doctors and some nurses inside, according to Palestinian Health Minister.
34 premature babies had initially also remained but were later evacuated to a hospital in the south in Rafah, near the border with Egypt, on Sunday Nov. 19.
The World Health Organization and the Palestinian Red Crescent also started to evacuate other seriously injured patients, including patients with serious spinal injuries, severely infected wounds due to lack of antibiotics, as well as those unable to flee on foot on Sunday.
Israel’s military said it had organized a voluntary evacuation on Saturday, but Palestinian health authorities said Israeli forces had forced people to leave.
“In the last moments, the Israeli authorities confirmed and warned whoever inside the hospital has to leave, except the wounded, the surgeon and some of the medical and nursing staff,” Dr. Ramez Radwan, a Palestinian doctor working inside the hospital, told Reuters outside.
Radwan said that the situation inside the hospital was dire, echoing the sentiment of the World Health Organization, which described Al-Shifa as a “death zone” on Sunday.
“There is bacteria that started growing in the feet and allow me to say: there is worm coming out of the wounds,” Radwan said. “Not to mention the suffering of the patient from the pain, there are no painkillers or antibiotics.”
“At Al Shifa hospital there is no food and no drink, we get shot at, they (Israelis) enter whenever they want and leave whenever they want,” Majed Bheeth, a boy who was injured by an Israeli airstrike, told Reuters from a wheelchair outside the hospital.
“People are dead and nobody buries them, no food and drink, nothing. There are no doctors, nothing, the doctors ran away, there are some nurses, God bless them, who provide us with treatment and leave, there is no food, no drink and shooting 24 hours, it doesn’t stop,” he added.
“I worked as a doctor in the health ministry for 35 years, I haven’t seen like this miserable situation and criminality since 35 years,” Radwan said.