The Al-Shifa hospital, the largest medical facility in Gaza, ceased functioning as a hospital on Sunday, according to the World Health Organization, which once again raised concerns about the dire humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian enclave, while Israeli officials insisted on Hamas’ presence in a network of tunnels under the hospital.
According to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the situation at the Al-Shifa hospital is “dire and perilous” after it has endured three days of no electricity, water and poor internet “which has severely impacted our ability to provide essential care.”
Tedros said the hospital “is not functioning as a hospital anymore,” as constant gunfire and bombings have worsened the situation.
The top WHO officials said the “world cannot stand silent” as he urged for an immediate ceasefire.
Hospital authorities, however, told the Associated Press that many remained trapped inside the hospital as the Israeli offensive intensified.
The hospital’s director Dr. Muhammad Abu Salmiya told an Arab news outlet that they have been forced to move premature babies out of incubators, wrap them in foils and place them next to hot water to keep them alive.
Fighting near the Al-Shifa hospital and deteriorating conditions inside it have even raised concern at the White House, Haaretz reported citing an Israel official. The Biden administration has urged Israeli officials to avoid harming civilians at the medical facility and has warned that it not publicly back Israel in the coming weeks if many civilian casualties occur. According to the report, a major fear for the Biden administration is the Al-Shifa hospital becoming the site of a bloody battle between Israeli forces and Hamas, which would result in a large number of civilian deaths.
President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan addressed U.S. concerns about fighting at the hospital on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday saying: “The United States does not want to see firefights in hospitals, where innocent people, patients receiving medical care, are caught in the crossfire.”