In a statement, the Israeli military denied that it had attacked the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, which it claims is above a Hamas command post, but acknowledged that fighting is taking place “around” the facility.
UN chief for emergency aid and humanitarian affairs, Martin Griffithstweeted that in the face of “horrific reports of attacks” there could be “no justification for acts of war in health facilities leaving them without power, food or water and shooting at patients and civilians trying to escape.
“This is unconscionable, reprehensible and must stop.
“Hospitals are very much places of greater security, and those who need them must trust that they are shelter and not war.”
The principle of proportionality
United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Lynn Hastingsreinforced the call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, stressing that civilian infrastructure “cannot be used for military operations.”
“Patients, medical staff as well as displaced people taking refuge must be protected,” she tweeted.
“The principle of proportionality, distinction must be respected.”
News reports citing a non-governmental organization representing doctors said two premature babies have died in the past few hours at Al-Shifa after the last working generator was damaged during airstrikes.
The hospital has reportedly now run out of water, food and electricity.
Latest numbers from OCHAquoting the Gaza Health Ministry – which the UN considers reliable – reports that more than 10,800 have been killed in the enclave since the October 7 attacks and more than 26,900 wounded.
Israel has on Friday downgraded the number of people killed as a result of the Hamas terrorist attacks to 1,200.
Lives ‘hanging by a thread’
Earlier on Saturday, the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF said that “near total collapse and attacks on medical and health services”, particularly in northern Gaza, had left lives “hanging by a thread.”
Noting that medical care at Al-Rantisi and Al-Nasr Children’s Hospitals in the Strip was “reportedly almost at a standstill”, they said only a small generator was left to power the intensive care unit.
“Children’s the right to life and health is denied,” said Adele Khodr, Regional Director for UNICEF Middle East and North Africa. “Protecting hospitals and providing life-saving medical supplies is an obligation under the laws of war, and both are needed now.”
Meanwhile, medical facilities in the central and southern areas of the Gaza Strip, already overwhelmed by the sheer number of injuries requiring treatment, now also have to deal with the needs of an influx of hundreds of thousands of people into even more tightly packed spaces, noted UNICEF.
“These existing services need to be supported and strengthened to deal with the increasing challenges they face”, the agency said.
Children’s lives “hang by a thread”, Mr Khodr said. Children in the north “have nowhere to go and are at extreme risk.”