Some Gaza hospitals have become such an integral part of the battle between Israeli forces and Hamas, the safest place for patients and staff is elsewhere.
Twenty-eight of the 31 premature babies evacuated from Shifa Hospital on Sunday were transported to Egyptian medical facilities Monday, the same day 12 people were killed and others injured in what the Hamas-run Health Ministry said was Israeli shelling at another hospital in north Gaza. Israel said it returned fire from militants but did not shell Indonesian Hospital.
Of the original 39 premature babies authorities warned were endangered as fighting around Shifa intensified, eight have died. The surviving ones face an uphill battle after getting sick amid a lack of medicines, clean water and power for incubators along with other substandard conditions at the besieged Shifa, raided by Israeli forces last week.
"All babies are fighting serious infections and others conditions, and need specialized medical care,'' World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu said in a tweet that included a video showing the group effort to care for and transport the tiny infants.
The 31 babies were taken for stabilization Sunday to a hospital in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. Three of them remain there in "good health,'' the Palestine Red Crescent Society said.
Part of the war has focused on north Gaza hospitals because Israel says Hamas uses the civilians there as human shields and that it operated a major command hub inside and beneath the 20-acre Shifa complex, a claim hospital officials and Hamas deny. The White House said Monday it has “corroborated” Israel's assertion.
The WHO has evacuated some patients and staff from embattled Shifa in recent days but said it remains gravely concerned about the safety and health needs of more than 250 patients and 20 health workers who remain. Planning is underway to evacuate them, WHO said in a statement.
'Sticking points' hold up hostage deal: 31 babies rescued at Gaza hospital
∎ National Security Council spokesman John Kirby reiterated Monday the White House belief that "we're closer than we've ever been'' to reaching a deal for the release of hostages. President Joe Biden also said an agreement is near, without providing specifics.
∎ The relatives of some Israeli hostages met Monday with top officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Udi Goren, whose cousin is captive in Gaza, said they were told the hostages won't be prioritized over crushing Hamas. “This is incredibly disappointing because … taking down Hamas, we keep hearing from them, is going to take months or years,” Goren said.
∎ The Israeli military said its airstrikes killed three Hamas company commanders and destroyed a weapons depot where they were hiding.
∎Mirjana Spoljaric, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Monday in Qatar. The ICRC is seeking communication between the hostages and their families and also wants its teams to visit captives and bring them medication.
∎ Israel said it found a 60-yard-long tunnel about 30 feet under Shifa Hospital grounds, claiming it represents more evidence that Hamas maintained a compound under the sprawling hospital facility..
'Did we die?' A week in the life of a journalist in the Gaza Strip
The chief of Hamas told Reuters Tuesday that the Palestinian militant group was near a truce agreement with Israel. The news outlet said it received a statement from an aide of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh indicating that the group had delivered its response through Qatari mediators.
The statement did not give more information, Reuters added. A Hamas official said negotiations were centered on how long the truce would last, arrangements for delivery of aid, and the exchange of hostages, the news outlet reported citing Al Jazeera TV.
Hamas official Issat el Reshiq said both sides would free women and children, terms and details that will be announced by Qatar.
On Monday, the State of Qatar condemned Israel for bombing the Indonesian Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, calling it “a blatant violation of international laws and agreements, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
Tedros said he was "appalled" by an attack on Indonesian Hospital that reportedly resulted in 12 deaths, including patients, and several critical and life-threatening injuries. Heavy fighting erupted around Indonesian Hospital as Israel continues to expand its offensive in the enclave.
“Health workers and civilians should never have to be exposed to such horror, and especially while inside a hospital,” Tedros said in a social media post.
Marwan Abdallah, a medical worker at the hospital, said dozens of Palestinians killed and wounded in overnight airstrikes and shelling at the nearby Jabaliya refugee camp were brought into the facility, and that Israeli tanks were less than 200 yards away.
Hundreds of patients, about 200 health care workers and 2,000 displaced Palestinians were sheltering at the health care center, Hamas Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said. Late Monday, he said roughly 200 wounded patients and their companions were evacuated to southern Gaza in a rescue effort coordinated by the U.N. and the Red Cross, and that 400 and 500 other wounded people remain.
According to the U.N., a clinic operated by Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, was also hit in Gaza City on Monday. A building and five of the organizations' cars were burned and crushed by tank shelling, the U.N. said.
Twenty-one people were in the clinic and might be in "extreme danger," according to the U.N. Their status is unknown.
Several relatives of hostages being held by Hamas made an urgent plea for their release at a news conference Monday in London. The Irish father of Emily Hand, who turned 9 on Friday, pleaded for her release. Emily was originally feared dead after the assault on Kibbutz Be’eri in Israel on Oct. 7.
''It's nightmare, an absolute nightmare," Thomas Hand said. "The sheer terror of a 9-year-old-girl down in those dark tunnels, never seeing the light of day. Sheer terror, panic every hour of every day."
Hand said he prays for his daughter's return but said his family has been given virtually no information on the progress of talks aimed at freeing the captives. Officials in Qatar have said a deal is close for the release of some of the hostages in return for a temporary cease-fire.
"I don't know what condition she is going to be in, but she's going to be broken, very broken, mentally and physically," Thomas Hand said of his daughter. "And we are going to have to fix that."
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday decried the ''unprecedented'' loss of civilian lives, including thousands of children, as Israel expanded its bombardment of Gaza.
“This is what matters,” Guterres said at a press briefing at U.N. headquarters in New York. “We are witnessing a killing of civilians that is unparalleled and unprecedented in any conflict" since he became secretary general in 2017.
Palestinian health authorities report a death toll of more than 11,500 since the war began Oct. 7, including about 5,500 children. Guterres said it is crucial that the world seizes an opportunity from tragedy unfolding in Gaza to create a two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli crisis.
U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator Lynn Hastings on World's Children Day appealed for all parties to "protect Palestinian and Israeli children and their rights." This is the largest child mass-casualty in all war zones since 2019, the U.N. said citing the charity Save the Children.
The Israeli military released multiple videos it says shows Hamas militants "forcibly transporting hostages" inside Shifa Hospital on Oct. 7, the day Hamas militants seized them during the rampage that left more than 1,200 people dead. The military said the videos show a Nepalese civilian and a Thai civilian, who were kidnapped from Israeli territory. In one of the videos a person is being dragged along a hospital corridor; another shows a bleeding person on a gurney. Israeli vehicles stolen during the attack can also be seen inside the hospital compound, the military said.
"These findings add to previous evidence presented regarding Hamas’ use of the hospital area as infrastructure for its terrorist activities in a systematic and ongoing manner," the military said.
An Israeli army corporal being held by Hamas was killed by her captors, not by an Israeli airstrike as the militants claimed, the Israeli military says.
Hamas says the airstrike Nov. 9 killed Cpl. Noa Marciano, a 19-year-old whose body was recovered last week in Gaza. But Israel says a militant holding Marciano, captured during the Oct. 7 Hamas rampage through Israeli border communities, was killed and Marciano was wounded when the airstrike hit an apartment near Shifa Hospital.
“The pathology report states that Noa was injured by the strike, but not in a life-threatening way, and this is contrary to the lies published by Hamas,” Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesperson, said late Sunday. “According to intelligence information, Noa was taken inside the walls of Shifa Hospital, where she was murdered by a Hamas terrorist.”
The Israeli military said it sends its “heartfelt condolences to the Marciano family” and will continue to support them while working toward the return of the more than 200 hostages believed held by militants in Gaza.
EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell is facing backlash in the Arab world over what is being viewed as a double standard for his comments Sunday on the Israeli military campaign in Gaza. Borrell was asked by Al Jazeera whether he believed Israel's attack constituted a war crime.
“Well, I’m not a lawyer, but there’s an International Court of Justice that’ll investigate and I’ll abide by their decision,” Borrell said.
When asked specifically whether the Hamas attack Oct. 7 was a war crime, Borrell said it was. When pressed on why he was willing to judge Hamas but not Israel, Borrell denied applying a double standard but acknowledged that "you are right, we should let the International Criminal Court decide." The interview circulated widely on social media, drawing outrage from some Palestinians.
Darine Dandachly of Lebanon posted that "you are not a lawyer but you are a complicit in genocide against the Palestinians." Another social media post by #UncensorPalestine said "there you have it. Evident display of racism and double standards."
Contributing: Joey Garrison, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dozens of babies 'fighting serious infections' taken to Egypt2023-11-20T14:26:16Z dg43tfdfdgfd