WHO loses communication with contacts at Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital amid repeated attacks
''It's been 3 days without electricity, without water and with very poor internet which has severely impacted our ability to provide essential care'' wrote WHO's Tedros Ghebreyesus, urging a ceasefire
The World Health Organization (WHO) claimed that it has lost all communications with contacts at Gaza's largest Al-Shifa Hospital amid repeated Israeli attacks and heavy fighting in the vicinity.
In a statement issued on Sunday night, the WHO said: " As horrifying reports of the hospital facing repeated attacks continue to emerge, we assume our contacts joined tens of thousands of displaced people who had sought shelter on the hospital grounds and are fleeing the area.
"There are reports that some people who fled the hospital have been shot at, wounded and even killed."
According to the latest update by the Palestinian Health Ministry, 600-650 inpatients, 200-500 health workers and approximately 1,500 internally displaced people still inside the hospital as of Monday morning.
"Lack of power, water and food, putting lives at immediate risk. There is no safe passage out of the hospital,' it added.
The WHO statement went on to say that the hospital has come under multiple attacks in the past 48 hours, leaving several people dead and many others injured.
"The intensive care unit suffered damage from bombardment, while areas of the hospital where displaced people were sheltering have also been damaged. An intubated patient reportedly died when electricity was at one point cut," it noted.
The UN body also claimed that Al-Shifa was surrounded by tanks and medical staff reported lack of clean water and risk of the last remaining critical functions, including ICUs, ventilators and incubators, soon shutting down due to lack of fuel, putting the lives of patients at immediate risk.
“It's been three days without electricity, without water and with very poor internet, which has severely impacted our ability to provide essential care,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on the social media platform X.
“Regrettably, the hospital is not functioning as a hospital anymore... The world cannot stand silent while hospitals, which should be safe havens, are transformed into scenes of death, devastation, and despair."
The development at Al-Shifa comes after the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) had announced on Sunday that Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City – the second largest in the territory – is now out of service.
In a statement, the PRCS said the hospital was “no longer operational. This cessation of services is due to the depletion of available fuel and power outage”.
“Medical staff are making every effort to provide care to patients and the wounded,” despite “dire humanitarian conditions and a shortage of medical supplies, food, and water,” it added.
The PRCS said it “deeply regrets reaching this critical point despite efforts to prevent it. Repeated appeals for urgent international assistance, given the week-long siege and a five-day communication and internet blackout, have been unsuccessful.”
"The hospital has been left to fend for itself under ongoing Israeli bombardment, posing severe risks to the medical staff, patients, and displaced civilians,” it said.
The PRCS claimed that hospitals were under siege, an allegation that has been repeatedly rejected by the Israel Defense Forces.
It asserted that there is "only one operational hospital in Gaza and two in the north."
Published: 13 Nov 2023, 8:40 AM