Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip — At least 30 premature babies were evacuated from Gaza’s main hospital on Sunday and will be transferred to facilities in Egypt, the territory’s Health Ministry said.
Ministry spokesman Medhat Abbas confirmed the evacuation in a call with The Associated Press. A World Health Organization team that visited Shifa hospital on Saturday said there were 32 babies among dozens of seriously ill patients stranded at the site, where an Israeli forces operation has been underway since last week.
At first it was not possible to clarify the discrepancy in figures. The WHO had no immediate comment.
The WHO team had earlier said 291 patients remained in Shifa after Israeli troops evacuated the others. Among them were babies in very serious condition, trauma patients with serious infections in their wounds and others with spinal cord injuries who cannot be moved.
The team was able to tour Shifa hospital for an hour after 2,500 displaced people, mobile patients and medical staff left the complex on Saturday morning, according to the World Health Organization, which was leading the mission. Another 25 workers were still in the facility with the patients.
“Patients and health staff we spoke to were terrified for their health and safety and pleaded for evacuation,” said the agency, which described Shifa as a dead zone. He initially said he hoped to evacuate patients to southern Gaza, where hospitals are also overwhelmed.
Israel has long claimed that Hamas has a large command center under and inside the Shifa hospital. He has described the site as a key target in his war to end the militants’ control over Gaza following their sweeping attack on southern Israel six weeks ago that sparked the war.
Hamas and the hospital staff deny the accusations. Israeli troops who have been deployed to the hospital and searched its grounds for days said they had found weapons and showed reporters the entrance to a tunnel. The AP could not independently verify the Israeli findings.
Israel described Saturday’s mass departure as voluntary, but the WHO said the army had given evacuation orders and some of those who left described it as a forced exodus.
“We left at gunpoint,” Mahmoud Abu Auf told The Associated Press by phone after he and his family left the hospital. “There are tanks and snipers everywhere, inside and outside.” He reported that he saw Israeli soldiers detaining three men.
Attacks in the north and south
Elsewhere in northern Gaza, Dozens of people were killed in the Jabaliya refugee camp when what witnesses described as an Israeli airstrike hit a crowded United Nations shelter on Saturday. The attack caused massive destruction at the camp’s Fakhour school, according to wounded survivors Ahmed Radwan and Yassin Sharif.
“The scenes were horrifying. Corpses of women and children on the ground, others screaming for help,” Radwan said by phone. AP photos at the scene show more than 20 bodies wrapped in bloody sheets.
The Israeli forces, which had repeatedly told the Palestinians to leave northern Gaza, limited themselves to saying that their troops were operating in the area “with the aim of attacking terrorists.” Israeli forces rarely comment on specific bombings, saying only that they are attacking Hamas and trying to minimize harm to civilians.
On the night of Saturday to Sunday, clashes were reported in the Jabaliya field. “There was constant noise of fire, gunshots and tank shells,” Yassin Sharif, who was taking shelter in a U.N.-run hospital in the camp, said by phone. “It was another night of terror.”
In southern Gaza, an Israeli strike hit a residential building near the town of Khan Younis on Saturday, killing at least 26 Palestinians, according to a doctor at the hospital where the bodies were taken.
Doctors Without Borders, an international aid group, said a convoy of the group’s employees and their families had attempted to evacuate northern Gaza in a clearly marked convoy on Saturday, but turned around at the sound of gunshots at a crowded checkpoint. Israeli road. On its return trip to Gaza City, the convoy was attacked and a relative of an employee was killed, the group said. At first it was not clear who had attacked the convoy.
More than 11,500 Palestinians have died, according to Palestinian health authorities. Another 2,700 are missing and believed to have been buried in rubble. The count does not distinguish between civilians and combatants, and Israel says it has killed thousands of militants.
Some 1,200 people have been killed on the Israeli side, most of them civilians killed during the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, in which the group took some 240 captives back to Gaza. The army said 52 Israeli soldiers have been killed.
Hamas has freed four hostages, Israel has rescued one and the bodies of two were found near Shifa in an area where there was intense fighting.