‘No electricity, no food, no water’: Thousands of Palestinians locked in Gaza’s main hospital

Thousands of civilians were still trapped Tuesday in Gaza City’s main hospital, at the heart of clashes between Israel and Hamas, deprived of water and electricity and where about 180 bodies were buried in a mass grave, according to its director .

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Several thousand Palestinians, patients, staff and civilians displaced by the war that has been raging since October 7, fill the site of al-Chifa hospital, a huge housing complex that Israel says is an infrastructure of the Islamist movement buried in a network of tunnels.

“The situation is very serious, it is inhumane,” warned Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on X (formerly Twitter).

At least “179 bodies” were buried Tuesday in a “mass grave” dug in the al-Chifa hospital complex, its director announced to AFP, specifying that among them were seven premature babies who died from lack of electricity to keep them alive.

“We were forced to bury them in a mass grave,” said Dr. Mohammed Abou Salmiya. “There are bodies littering the corridors of the hospital complex and the refrigerated rooms of mortuaries are no longer supplied” with electricity, he added.

A journalist working with AFP inside the hospital said the smell of decomposing bodies was overwhelming.

Israeli tanks were concentrated at the gates of al-Chifa on Tuesday, while fighting and airstrikes in the vicinity continued throughout the night, he added, although less intense than previous nights.

Israel has been relentlessly pounding the Gaza Strip since the attack launched on its soil against civilians by Hamas commandos on October 7, and has been conducting a ground operation since October 27 with the aim of ‘”exterminate” the Islamist movement, power in the besieged Palestinian territory.

On the Israeli side, about 1,200 people were killed, officials said, the vast majority of civilians killed on the day of the attack, of a scale and violence unprecedented since Israel’s creation in 1948.

The Israeli army announced on Tuesday that 46 soldiers had been killed since the start of the war.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli shelling killed a total of 11,240 people, mostly civilians, including 4,630 children, according to the Hamas Health Ministry.

The Israeli military estimates that around 240 people were taken hostage in the Gaza Strip during the Hamas attack. It announced the death of Noa Marciano, a 19-year-old soldier held hostage by Hamas, on Tuesday, the day after the Islamist movement published a photo showing her as “killed by an Israeli bombardment.”

Hamas accuses Israel of “procrastinating” in discussions, through the mediation of Qatar, about the possible release of dozens of hostages in exchange for a truce.

Relatives of the hostages planned a march from Tel Aviv to the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem on Tuesday to pressure Benjamin Netanyahu to favor their release.

On Monday, Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said soldiers “found indications” of the presence of hostages held by Hamas in a video filmed in a basement of the Al-Children Rantissi Hospital in Gaza.

He showed images of a baby bottle and a piece of clothing near a chair, as well as assault rifles, grenades and what he described as “explosive belts”.

The Hamas government said on Monday that all hospitals in the northern Gaza Strip, where the most violent fighting is concentrated, were “out of order” due to a lack of electricity and fuel.

US President Joe Biden called on Israel, of which the US is a key ally, to show restraint, saying the Al-Chifa hospital must be “protected”.

The UN continues to demand that fuel be sent to Gaza, particularly for power generators in hospitals.

The territory has been under a complete siege by Israel since October 9, depriving its population of water, electricity, food and medicine. But Israel refuses to allow the fuel to pass, saying it could be used by Hamas for its military activities.

“We have no electricity, no food, no water in the hospital,” said al-Chifa, an MSF doctor. “People will die within hours without working ventilators,” he added.

The Israeli military, which accuses the Islamist movement of using the sick and displaced as “human shields”, said it had not targeted the hospital. He reported “efforts” to transfer incubators from an Israeli hospital to al-Chifa.

“The idea is to try to evacuate people, evacuate as much as possible,” Army spokesman Peter Lerner said Monday night.

According to him, “a few hundred” people were inside the hospital, while according to the Deputy Health Minister of the Hamas government, Youssef Abou Rich, who was present at the hospital, there were around 20,000 displaced people.

On Tuesday, the Hamas government claimed that “more than a hundred” people had been killed since the previous day in Israeli airstrikes, one of which left 30 dead, according to this source, at the Indonesian hospital in Jabaliya , a large refugee camp. from the north of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas has “lost control in Gaza” and its fighters are “fleeing south” from the territory, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Monday. According to the UN, approximately 1.6 of the territory’s 2.4 million people have been displaced by the war.

In recent days, tens of thousands of Palestinians have fled the northern Gaza Strip, transformed into a field of ruins, to the south after Israel opened evacuation “corridors”.

In the south of the territory, hundreds of thousands of displaced people gather near the border with Egypt, in disastrous humanitarian conditions.

International aid is slowly arriving from Egypt, but in very insufficient amounts according to the UN.

On the Israel-Lebanon border, new exchanges of fire between the Israeli army and armed groups in Lebanon, including the powerful pro-Iranian Hezbollah, which supports Hamas, took place overnight from Monday to Tuesday. .

In the West Bank, five Palestinians died, according to a hospital source, during night clashes with Israeli forces in the Tulkarem sector, in the north of this Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, plagued by an upsurge in violence on the outskirts. the war in Gaza.