GAZA STRIP — Patients are out “in the streets without care” after “forced evacuations” of two paediatric hospitals in Gaza, an official in the Hamas-held territory said Sunday, countering the Israeli army which said it secured safe passage for civilians.
“The forced evacuations of Al-Nasr and Rantisi paediatric hospitals have left sick people on the streets without care” in Gaza City, Mohammed Zaqut, director-general of hospitals in the Palestinian territory, told reporters.
“We have completely lost contact with the caregivers” at these two hospitals, he added.
Earlier Sunday, the Israeli military said it had “enabled the evacuation” of the two hospitals and opened an additional route to facilitate the safe passage of the civilian population to the south of the Gaza Strip.
Zaqut also described a “catastrophic” situation inside Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, saying “no one can enter or leave it” amid heavy fighting.
Doctors and aid groups on Saturday said two out of 39 babies had died in Al-Shifa’s neonatal unit after power to their incubators was cut off.
“We must save premature babies,” Zaqut said.
Israel pledged on Saturday to help evacuate babies from the facility, which has been caught in Israel’s ground offensive and repeatedly hit by strikes.
But Melanie Ward, chief executive of the group Medical Aid for Palestinians, questioned how such an evacuation could be undertaken safely.
“The transfer of critically ill neonates is a complex and technical process,” Ward said.
“With ambulances unable to reach the hospital — particularly those with the skills and equipment needed to transfer these babies — and no hospital with capacity to receive them, there is no indication of how this can be done safely.”
For days, Al-Shifa officials have said that dozens of bodies have been abandoned near the hospital and in its courtyard.
An Al-Shifa ambulance driver, speaking to AFP by telephone, said ambulances had come under sniper fire while trying to approach the bodies.
“We asked to be able to bury the bodies, but anyone who goes out into the courtyard of Al-Shifa hospital gets shot,” Zaqut said.
The Gaza health ministry, he added, is “no longer able” to report on the dead and injured due to lack of access.
According to last toll from the ministry released on Friday, more than 11,000 people have died in Israel’s relentless bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip, mostly civilians and including thousands of children.
The military campaign came after Hamas fighters broke through the militarised border with Israel on October 7, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 240 people hostage, according to the most recent Israeli figures. — AFP