Health officials have confirmed the evacuation of 31 premature babies from Gaza’s main hospital, Al-Shifa, as the Israeli offensive intensifies. The infants, in “extremely critical condition,” were safely transferred to Egypt, highlighting the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region.
The evacuation comes in the aftermath of Israeli forces entering the hospital compound in search of Hamas operations, further complicating an already devastating situation. Over 250 patients with severely infected wounds and other urgent conditions remain stranded, underscoring the challenges faced by Palestinian civilians amid the ongoing conflict.
Al-Shifa Hospital, a key medical facility, has become a focal point in the war between Israel and Hamas. Israeli authorities claim that the hospital is being used by Hamas as a headquarters for military operations. The hospital, where power was cut and supplies ran out during the clashes, saw four newborns succumb to their conditions in the days preceding the evacuation.
A World Health Organization (WHO) team that visited Al-Shifa reported alarming conditions, with hospital corridors filled with medical and solid waste, posing a heightened risk of infection for patients. The majority of patients in the hospital have amputations, burns, or other traumatic injuries, with a severe shortage of antibiotics.
Marwan Jilani, director general of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, emphasized the dire state of the Gaza health sector, describing it as “totally destroyed and undermined.” The WHO is coordinating missions to evacuate remaining patients to southern Gaza, pending guarantees of safe passage.
In response to Israeli claims, the army presented evidence supporting its assertion that Hamas maintains a command post inside and under Al-Shifa. A 55-meter-long tunnel, located about 10 meters under the hospital complex, was reportedly discovered, further escalating tensions. Israel considers the hospital a strategic target in its efforts to end Hamas rule in Gaza.
The conflict has claimed thousands of lives in Gaza, with severe shortages of essential resources such as food, water, medicine, and fuel. Critics argue that the situation reflects Israel’s reckless endangerment of civilians, while Hamas denies the allegations of a command post under Al-Shifa.
As the crisis deepens, the international community faces increasing pressure to address the humanitarian needs of the people caught in the crossfire, with urgent calls for a cessation of hostilities to allow for the delivery of essential aid and medical assistance.