The deputy health minister of the Hamas government in Gaza told AFP on Sunday that an Israeli airstrike had “completely destroyed” the heart disease department building at Al-Chifa hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip bombed and besieged by Israel.
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“The two-story building of the heart disease department was completely destroyed in an airstrike,” said Youssef Abou Rich, blaming the attack on the Israeli army.
AFP could not confirm this strike on site, but at least one witness present at the hospital confirmed beatings and damage.
The Israeli military did not immediately react.
“There was a new strike in the surgery department and the outpatient surgery department,” added the Palestinian official, who reported “since dawn five shells in the complex.”
“The (Israeli) tanks are completely besieging the al-Chifa hospital,” he said, while the Israeli military described as “false” reports that its troops are “surrounding and hitting” al-Chifa.
“They shoot everyone who tries to leave all the buildings in the hospital complex,” said Mr. Abou Rich, who did not rate.
The Israeli army confirms it is deployed around the hospital, while allowing an exit to the east, open to the thousands of displaced people housed in the hospital.
“There are two (Israeli) tanks whose guns are pointing inside the maternity hospital, at the southern entrance to the al-Chifa compound,” detailed Mr. Abu Rich As well as “two tanks outside the west entrance and two tanks inside this entrance”.
Around the huge hospital complex, “there are dozens of bodies in the streets, hundreds of wounded,” said Mr. Abu Rich His ministry has stopped publishing its daily death toll since Friday, saying it can no longer make contact with all hospitals and cannot send its ambulances because of the violence of fighting and strikes.
In al-Chifa, there are “650 patients, about forty children in incubators, all threatened with death, and 15,000 displaced,” said Mr. Abu Rich
Since Saturday, electricity has been cut in al-Chifa and dozens of babies in incubators and patients in intensive care are now in danger of death, according to several international NGOs.
“Nurses give manual respiratory massages to these premature babies,” said Mr. Abou Rich, saying he feared the death of several of them within hours.