GAZA CITY (The Thursday Times) — The director of Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital, Muhammed Abu Salmiya, directing the largest medical facility in the enclave, has confirmed the death of all patients in its intensive care unit (ICU). This news comes amidst Israel’s ongoing siege of the hospital, now in its third day.
Abu Salmiya says that al-Shifa currently houses 7,000 people, including patients, medical staff, and those seeking refuge. Despite the dire circumstances, medical personnel continue their efforts to provide care. Abu Salmiya described the hospital as a “big prison” and a “mass grave,” highlighting the severity of the situation.
The hospital is grappling with severe shortages, lacking power, food, and water. Salmiya reported the loss of 22 lives overnight, a grim testament to the escalating crisis. ABC News from America earlier reported that 43 of the 63 ICU patients had died due to the depletion of oxygen supplies, a direct consequence of the siege.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) entered al-Shifa Hospital on Wednesday amidst heavy shelling, following days of encircling the facility with tanks. The IDF claims that the hospital is a key command center for Hamas, an allegation that the militant group, which has controlled Gaza since 2007, denies. As Israeli forces conduct floor-by-floor searches, they assert to have uncovered intelligence materials, weapons, and information regarding hostages.
The siege has had a profound impact on Gaza’s healthcare infrastructure. Most hospitals have ceased functioning due to the lack of essentials like fuel and food following Hamas’s attack on October 7, which resulted in 1,200 deaths in southern regions. Israeli troops are currently engaged in a ground incursion in northern Gaza, allegedly aimed at dismantling the Hamas network and rescuing 240 hostages taken by militants.
The Hamas health ministry reports over 11,000 fatalities in Gaza. The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed grave concerns about the potential for widespread starvation due to fuel shortages impacting food production. Richard Peeperkorn, WHO representative for the occupied Palestinian territories, has announced plans to establish field hospitals in Gaza. Before the conflict, the region had 3,500 hospital beds, a number now reduced to just 1,400. Additionally, medical care in surgeries is severely impaired, operating at less than 60 percent capacity.