The World Health Organization (WHO) says it has lost communication with officials at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, saying it assumes its contacts have joined the stream of an estimated hundreds of thousands of civilians who have fled to the Strip’s south in recent days.
Fighting has raged increasingly closer to the Palestinian enclave’s biggest hospital, under which Israel says the Hamas’s terror group maintains a major command center as part of its vast network of tunnels.
Jerusalem has urged the hospital’s staff and patients, along with all Gaza City residents, to flee south to avoid harm as Israeli forces isolate and attempt to gain control of the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
There have been reports of gunfire targeting civilians seeking to exit the hospital and flee, with Israel saying the shooters are Hamas gunmen and the terror group blaming Israel.
In a series of tweets, WHO says several people have died and others injured in attacks that have hit parts of Shifa Hospital, and that some areas of operations have shut down.
There are reports that some of those who fled the hospital have been shot at, wounded, or killed.
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) November 12, 2023
The UN body says it “has grave concerns for the safety of the health workers, hundreds of sick and injured patients, including babies on life support and displaced people who remain inside the hospital.
“WHO calls again for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as the only way to save lives and reduce the horrific levels of suffering. Hospitals, patients, health staff, and persons sheltering in health facilities are protected under the Geneva Conventions & International Humanitarian Law,” it says.
The organization also calls for the “sustained, orderly, unimpeded and safe medical evacuations of critically injured and sick patients into Egypt through the Rafah Border Crossing.”
Regarding the at least 239 hostages held in the Strip by terrorists after they were abducted from Israel on October 7, WHO says “all hostages should receive appropriate medical care and be released unconditionally.”