Hundreds of people evacuated Saturday the largest hospital in Gaza where, according to the UN, there were at least 2,300 patients, doctors and displaced people trapped by the war between Hamas and Israel in the Palestinian territory where an air strike left 26 dead during the night.
At 43e day of the conflict, they left the hospital on foot, a huge complex located in the west of Gaza City, said an AFP journalist on site. But medical staff said that 120 patients, including premature babies, were still in the establishment.
“Many patients cannot leave the hospital because they are in intensive care or in incubators,” explained on X the Dr Ahmed el-Mokhallalati, who will stay “with five other doctors [et] 120 patients.”
These columns of displaced people, medical personnel and patients, some injured and very weak, headed towards the Salaheddine road, which leads to the south of Gaza where the Israeli army is ordering the population to take refuge.
On the way, the AFP journalist saw at least fifteen bodies, some in an advanced state of decomposition. All around, the roads are broken, stores destroyed, cars overturned or crushed.
The Israeli army, which is carrying out a raid on the al-Chifa hospital for the fourth consecutive day and whose tanks are surrounding the hospital, is searching the complex “building by building”. It houses, according to her, a Hamas den installed in particular in a network of tunnels. The Palestinian Islamist movement categorically denies these allegations.
The electricity stopped working there several days ago and its department heads report that several dozen patients have died “because vital medical equipment stopped working due to the power outage.”
The retaliatory bombings on the Gaza Strip have been incessant since Hamas carried out an attack of unprecedented scale and violence on Israeli soil on October 7 which left 1,200 dead, mostly civilians, and kidnapped with other armed groups around 240 people, according to Israeli authorities.
According to the Hamas Ministry of Health, Israeli strikes killed at least 12,000 Palestinian civilians, including 5,000 children.
Negotiations on the release of the hostages are being held through mediation by Qatar, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuses any ceasefire until they have all been released.
In Israel, a procession of 25,000 people, according to its organizers, to demand their release is due to arrive in Jerusalem on Saturday afternoon and gather in front of Mr. Netanyahu’s offices.
The bodies of two female hostages, including a 19-year-old soldier, Noa Marciano, were found this week in buildings near al-Chifa hospital. The army also lost 51 soldiers, killed in combat in Gaza.
During the night from Friday to Saturday, a strike against three buildings in Khan Younes left 26 people dead and 23 seriously injured, according to the director of the Nasser hospital in this town in the south of the Gaza Strip.
“I was sleeping and we were surprised by the strike, at least 20 bombs were dropped,” Imed al-Moubacher, 45, told AFP.
“Suddenly, the house caught fire, I found myself with gravel in my mouth, I immediately looked for my husband and my daughters,” added his wife, Sabrine Moussa.
“I saw human remains everywhere, I screamed for help,” she said, adding that her brother had been killed during a strike on the family home in early November.
Israel, which has sworn to “annihilate” Hamas, has been carrying out land operations in parallel with bombing since October 27. They are concentrated in the north of the territory, in Gaza City transformed into a field of ruins and around hospitals. The army accuses Hamas of using them as bases and of using the sick as “human shields”.
The territory has been placed under “complete siege” since October 9 by Israel, which has cut off deliveries of food, water, electricity and medicine passing through the Rafah crossing, on the border with Egypt. in southern Gaza. According to Hamas, 24 of Gaza’s 35 hospitals have stopped functioning.
Faced with shortages, the population faces “an immediate risk of famine”, warned the United Nations World Food Program (WFP).
In New York, the head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, criticized “the increasingly unjustifiable scale of Israel’s response”.
According to the UN, more than two-thirds of the Gaza Strip’s 2.4 million residents have been displaced by the war. Most fled south with the minimum they had and are surviving in the cold that sets in.
The fuel comes in
At the request of the United States, Israel authorized the daily entry of two tanker trucks into the Gaza Strip on Friday. A first delivery of 17,000 liters of fuel arrived in the evening at the Rafah terminal in order to restart the electricity generators of hospitals and telecommunications networks, according to the authority of the Palestinian part of the terminal.
Israel has so far refused to pass the gasoline, saying it could benefit the military activities of Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in 2007 and is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel. .
But these deliveries represent only a small part of the quantities, 50 trucks, which entered Gaza daily before the start of the war, according to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).
This agency announced on Friday that it would soon no longer be able to coordinate the distribution of humanitarian aid in Gaza due to the communications cut.
According to UNRWA, 70% of the population does not have access to drinking water in the south of the territory, where sewage has begun to flow into the streets as treatment plants have stopped operating due to lack of fuel. .
On Saturday morning, eight injured or sick Palestinian children were transferred to Abu Dhabi for treatment as part of a United Arab Emirates humanitarian mission for a thousand children. “Next week we will have evacuated everyone we can because time is running out and we are losing lives,” Mohammed Al Kaabi, of the Emirati Red Crescent, told AFP.
Tensions in the West Bank
Tensions are also high in the West Bank, territory occupied since 1967 by Israel, where around 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli settlers and soldiers since October 7, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Five fighters from Fatah, the movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, were killed on Saturday in a strike in the Balata camp, near Nablus, known for hosting different armed groups, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent and sources in within Fatah.
In Jenin, another stronghold of the Palestinian armed movements, the Israeli army killed “five terrorists” on Friday. And in Hebron, two Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.