NU.nl regularly gives you an overview of the situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. On Thursday evening: the Israeli army says it is prepared to shoot at hospitals in Gaza if Hamas fighters are there. The Red Cross warns that healthcare in Gaza is now in real danger of collapsing.
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“The healthcare system in Gaza is overstretched. It has reached a point of no return without endangering the lives of thousands of injured, sick and refugee people,” the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.
In a statement, the aid organization draws attention to a number of hospitals in Gaza. Children’s hospitals are not spared violence, the organization says, referring to Al Nassr and Al Rantasi hospitals. According to the ICRC, the important hospitals Al Shifa and Al Quds are also suffering heavily. “The destruction affecting Gaza’s hospitals is becoming unbearable and must stop. The lives of thousands of civilians, patients and healthcare workers are at risk,” said the head of the ICRC delegation in Gaza, William Schomburg.
Turkey has sent a ship with medical supplies to Egypt to treat war victims from Gaza. “A total of 51 containers of medical supplies, generators and 20 ambulances have been loaded on board a ship sent from Izmir’s Alsancak port to Egypt,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
Several hospitals under fire, several deaths
Several hospitals in the Gaza Strip have reportedly come under fire in the past 24 hours, various media write. Several people were killed, including at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. An AFP journalist counted at least seven deaths at Al Shifa, the hospital director spoke of 13 deaths. Neither claim has yet been independently verified.
Al Shifa Hospital was an important refuge for Palestinian refugees. According to the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health, approximately 60,000 people have been staying on the site until today, the news agency writes. AP. “Thousands of people” are said to have fled after last night’s explosions.
AP further reports that preliminary investigations by the Israeli army show that the explosions are the result of failed launches by Hamas itself. Israel has claimed in the past that Hamas fighters are using Al Shifa Hospital as a shield.
The Israeli armed forces say they are prepared to shoot at hospitals in Gaza if Hamas fighters are there. “When we see Hamas terrorists shooting from hospitals, we do what we have to do,” said spokesman Richard Hecht. “If we see Hamas terrorists, we will kill them.”
‘Intense fighting’ at Al Quds hospital
Deaths and injuries are also reported to have occurred at Al Nassr Hospital and Al Quds Hospital. The Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS) says “intense fighting” is taking place around Al Quds Hospital in Gaza City. Snipers from the Israeli armed forces are also said to have shot at the hospital. The organization reports in a statement that one person was killed and nineteen were injured.
Al Quds Hospital is run by the PRCS. That organization is affiliated with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, just like the Dutch Red Cross.
A spokesperson for the World Health Organization WHO says that the Al Rantisi Hospital has also come under fire. This building, like the Al Nassr hospital, would be surrounded by Israeli tanks. The Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health says that 21 of the 35 hospitals in the Gaza Strip are no longer functioning. Aid organization Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) says that only 12 hospitals are still functioning.
‘Far too many civilian casualties’
Many victims were also reported to have died at the Al Buraq school on Friday. Initially there was talk of 20 deaths, but according to the director of Al Shifa hospital, 50 people have now died, reports Al Jazeera.
The US Secretary of State said on Friday that “far too many” Palestinian civilians have been killed in Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip in recent weeks.
The statement is startling, because Americans are usually reluctant to discuss matters that could be interpreted as criticism of Israel. But lately there seems to be more noise on the line between the allies. For example, little seems to have come of the agreement on daily combat breaks announced by the White House.