A group of 28 premature infants were evacuated from al-Shifa Hospital in the besieged Gaza Strip due to an attack by Israeli forces in northern Gaza, as reported by Palestinian officials. These newborns, who were originally patients at al-Shifa, Gaza’s largest medical facility, faced life-threatening situations when their incubators stopped functioning due to a lack of fuel amidst the collapse of medical services during the Israeli military’s assault on Gaza City. Unfortunately, several infants had already succumbed to the dire conditions at the hospital.
On Sunday, the premature babies were transferred to Al-Helal Emirati Maternity Hospital in Rafah, located in southern Gaza, where efforts were made to stabilise their conditions before the subsequent journey to Egypt. The evacuation took place through the Rafah border crossing on Monday. Presently, three infants remain at the Emirati hospital, receiving ongoing medical treatment, as confirmed by a spokesperson from the World Health Organisation. All the babies are grappling with serious infections and continue to require healthcare. Disturbingly, reports from al-Shifa’s neonatal ward reveal eight infant deaths attributed to the lack of clean water and medicines.
Israeli forces seized al-Shifa Hospital last week, claiming to search for a Hamas tunnel network and command centre allegedly located beneath the complex. Amid the Israeli operation, numerous patients, medical personnel, and displaced individuals vacated al-Shifa, relocating to the southern Gaza Strip.
Against the backdrop of the ongoing conflict between Israeli forces and Hamas in Gaza, both Hamas and Israeli officials have suggested that a Qatari-mediated deal, aimed at releasing some captives in the Palestinian enclave and temporarily pausing hostilities to facilitate aid deliveries to civilians in distress, is nearing realisation.