Israeli Forces Enter Gaza’s Shifa Hospital Amidst Humanitarian Emergency

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Israeli forces launched a raid on Shifa Hospital in Gaza, leaving hundreds of patients, including newborns, stranded with diminishing supplies and no electricity. The incursion comes as the Israeli army extends its control over Gaza City and the northern regions. Shifa Hospital, a symbol of the widespread suffering of Palestinian civilians, has become a focal point in the narratives of blame between Israel and Hamas.


The conflict ignited when Hamas, in an October 7 surprise attack, killed around 1,200 people and captured approximately 240 individuals in southern Israel. Clashing narratives persist, with Israel accusing Hamas of using Palestinians as human shields, while Palestinians and rights groups assert that Israel has endangered civilians in its pursuit to eliminate the militant group.


Director of hospitals in Gaza, Mohammed Zaqout, reported Israeli tanks entering the medical compound, with soldiers breaching emergency and surgery departments, causing terror among patients, including children. The Israeli military stated it was conducting a “precise and targeted operation against Hamas” within Shifa Hospital, alleging the presence of a significant Hamas command center. The U.S. indicated its own intelligence suggesting Hamas’s use of hospitals and tunnels for military purposes.


In addition to Shifa Hospital, Israeli forces claimed control of key buildings and a downtown neighborhood in Gaza City. The ongoing conflict has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee Gaza City and its surrounding areas. The northern region faces severe shortages of aid, with the majority of its population enduring weeks without power or running water.


The Palestinian Health Ministry reported over 11,200 casualties, predominantly women and minors, with two-thirds of the territory’s 2.3 million people displaced. The UNRWA declared its fuel depot in Gaza empty, signaling an imminent end to relief operations for over 600,000 people sheltering in overcrowded U.N.-run facilities.


Despite earlier refusals, Israeli defense officials permitted 24,000 liters of fuel for humanitarian efforts. The decision, made in response to a U.S. request, aims to alleviate the humanitarian crisis. Hospitals, including Shifa, have ceased functioning due to dwindling supplies and lack of electricity, leading to critical consequences for patients, especially infants relying on incubators.


Efforts to transfer incubators to Shifa were initiated by the Israeli military, although the lack of electricity renders them ineffective. The Health Ministry proposed evacuating the hospital under the International Committee of the Red Cross’s supervision, transferring patients to Egyptian hospitals, but has received no response.


As Israeli forces extend control in northern Gaza, capturing key buildings and infrastructure, the situation remains dire. Independent accounts of the conflict in Gaza City are challenging to obtain due to communication breakdowns. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced significant gains but acknowledged the conflict’s prolonged nature, foreseeing “long months” ahead.


The military claims to have found weapons and eliminated fighters in various locations. Israel reported several thousand fighters killed, including mid-level commanders, with 46 of its soldiers losing their lives in Gaza. The international community, including the U.S., emphasizes the need for a resolution to prevent further civilian suffering in this protracted and devastating conflict.

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