Hundreds of patients flee Gaza’s main hospital

Hostage deal

WEB DESK: In a dramatic development on Saturday, hundreds of individuals were forced to evacuate Gaza’s main hospital, Al-Shifa, following an Israeli army order.

More than 2,000 patients, medics, and displaced people found themselves trapped by the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

An AFP journalist reported the evacuation, but health officials in Gaza claimed that 450 patients who couldn’t be moved remained at Al-Shifa.

The hospital has become a focal point of the conflict, with Israel alleging that Hamas uses it as an operations centre, a charge Hamas denies.

Israel, in response to Hamas’s October 7 attacks, has been conducting military operations inside the hospital, vowing to destroy Hamas.

The conflict, now in its seventh week, has resulted in a significant number of casualties, with conflicting reports on the exact figures.

Israeli troops ordered the evacuation of Al-Shifa hospital through loudspeakers, instructing patients, the wounded, displaced individuals, and medical staff to move on foot towards the seafront.

The United Nations estimated that before Israeli troops entered the facility, 2,300 patients, staff, and displaced Palestinians were seeking shelter at Al-Shifa.

Israel has faced accusations of targeting hospitals in northern Gaza, claiming they are being used by Hamas.

According to Arab News, the military asserts that it has found weapons and tunnels at the hospital complex, although these claims cannot be independently verified.

The situation in Gaza remains dire, with a blockade exacerbating the crisis, leading to fuel shortages, a blackout, and limited access to clean water.

International pressure, including from the United States, influenced Israel to allow limited fuel shipments into Gaza.

However, the UN warns that the current fuel supplies are insufficient to meet humanitarian needs. Hospitals are overwhelmed, and civilians face the immediate threat of starvation.

The conflict has displaced over 1.5 million people in Gaza, and more than half of the region’s hospitals are non-functional due to combat, damage, or shortages, causing severe delays in obtaining basic necessities.

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