Hospitals in the firing line
Gaza’s main hospital is struggling to care for patients amid allegations it is under siege by Israeli troops. According to doctors and the Hamas-run health ministry, the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City is currently providing shelter to an estimated 50,000 locals. For the injured and sick, power outages and no fuel to run backup generators mean some patients have died, reports say. That’s an accusation Israel denies – President Isaac Herzog says “everything is operating”, but troops are in the area because Hamas has its base underneath the building. Overnight, Hamas said it would not participate in further talks on the release of Israeli hostages because of the situation at the hospital.
Since Israeli troops entered the Palestinian Territory 2 weeks ago, the aim has been to root out Hamas fighters in Gaza City. Israel says Hamas is using hospitals in the territory as shields for fighters – critics point out that evidence of that hasn’t been provided and say that civilians and patients have been put in the line of fire. Reports say that includes premature babies taken out of inoperable incubators and placed onto ordinary beds – Israel has offered to help evacuate them babies. Doctors Without Borders says people attempting to flee the hospital have been shot and killed. And United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths said the hospital attacks were “unconscionable, reprehensible and must stop.”
French President Emmanuel Macron said there was “no justification” for Israel’s continued bombing of Gaza. And US Secretary of State Antony Blinken broke new diplomatic ground, saying “far too many Palestinians have been killed.” Yesterday, Foreign Minister Penny Wong called on Israel to end its fighting near the hospital and said both Israel and Hamas should take “steps towards a ceasefire. It cannot be one-sided.” Local Jewish groups have criticised her for the ceasefire call – one said it would “equal surrender”. Since the start of the war, the number of Palestinians killed has exceeded 11,000, according to local authorities. And on Friday, Israel revised its death toll from the 7 October Hamas attacks from 1,400 people to approximately 1,200.
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