TEL AVIV — Power outages hit the intensive care unit and pediatric ward of Gaza’s main hospital after heavy shelling and fighting near the facility overnight and into the morning, officials said Saturday. Palestinian health officials.
An infant was among two people who died at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City “because we had no electricity,” said Dr. Marwan Abusada, a surgeon at the hospital and also head of the international cooperation at the Hamas-led Ministry of Education. Health told NBC News in a phone interview.
Doctors continue to provide care to patients as best they can and rely on a “battery system” in the intensive care unit, he added.
Separately, Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Ministry of Health, told a press conference that the complex was effectively out of service due to the heavy shelling. He said intensive care and pediatric wards were affected by power outages. He also said two people had died.
Both said there was also a lack of food and water at the facility. “We don’t have electricity. We don’t have any water. Even we don’t have food,” Abusada said.
NBC News was not immediately able to independently confirm the situation on the ground.
An Israeli army spokesperson said in a statement on Saturday that there was “intense fighting underway against Hamas in the vicinity” of Al-Shifa Hospital. The soldiers were “taking all possible measures under operational circumstances to mitigate harm to civilians,” they said, adding that they could not answer questions related to “the specific military activity currently underway.”
Hospital staff struggled to provide proper burials, Abusada said, adding that it was too dangerous for them to leave the complex to bury the dead.
“They will attack people who will go and dig a hole in the ground to bury these people,” he said, referring to the Israeli army. When asked about this, the Israeli military referred NBC News to its statement on the ongoing fighting in the area.
Gaza health officials say more than 11,000 people have been killed. It is not known exactly how many burials took place.
The World Health Organization was “extremely troubled” by reports of strikes on Al-Shifa hospital, its director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in a message published on Friday.
He called for respect for international humanitarian law and a humanitarian ceasefire in the fighting, noting that in recent days four hospitals “have been taken out of service.”
“Many health workers we came into contact with were forced to leave the hospital in search of safety,” he added. “Others say they cannot move due to serious insecurity. »
As thousands of people responded in recent days to Israeli calls to leave northern Gaza and head south, Abusada said it was impossible for some patients to leave Al-Shifa – one of many medical complexes located to the north of the enclave.
“We cannot evacuate the hospital because we still have a large number of injured people in the hospital,” Abusada said, adding that doctors would not abandon their patients. “We have to provide them with care,” he said.
Israeli army says Hamas is hiding under hospitals in the tunnels, notably under Al-Shifa – allegations that Hamas and hospital staff have denied.
Additionally, a senior Israeli security official told NBC News on Thursday that at least one strike on the compound that day was provoked by a projectile launched by a militant group inside Gaza that missed. his shot. The official said the IDF was conducting a “thorough review of its operational systems and intelligence” regarding the strike.
It was the second time Israel had suggested a failed militant rocket had hit a hospital. Last month, he blamed al-Ahli Baptist Hospital for a rocket blast from the Islamic Jihad group. The United States made a similar assessment. Palestinian officials and Hamas said Israel struck the hospital and killed hundreds of civilians in a deliberate act.
In Al-Shifa, Dr Adnan Albursh, a consultant orthopedic surgeon, said on Thursday that if he became aware of the presence of Hamas militants or any other “terrorists” at the hospital, he would leave.
“I’m a doctor and this is my house,” he said, saying only medical professionals and people in need of help were allowed inside.
Amid heavy fighting around the hospital, Abusada said he feared for the future of the facility and those sheltering there.
“We have a large number of injured people who are hospitalized and we have to take care of them,” Abusada said.
“Yes, I’m scared,” he added. “But it’s my duty.”