Explosions were reported near several hospitals in the Gaza Strip throughout Friday. Apart from the deadly strike on Al Shifa hospital, Palestinian officials said other strikes had damaged parts of the Indonesian Hospital and reportedly set fire to the Rantissi paediatric and cancer hospital in the northern part of Gaza, where Israel says Hamas militants who attacked it last month are concentrated.
Israeli tanks, which have been advancing through northern Gaza for almost two weeks, have reportedly taken up positions around the Rantissi, Al-Quds and Nasser Children’s hospitals, raising concern for patients, doctors and evacuees.
Medical staff accused Israel of launching a war on Gaza City hospitals. Tel Aviv did not immediately comment but says it does not target civilians and goes to great lengths to avoid hitting them.
It says Hamas militants have hidden command centres and tunnels beneath Shifa and other hospitals, allegations which Hamas denies.
With Palestinian officials reporting more than 10,000 dead, Israel has faced growing calls for restraint in its month-old war on Hamas but says the militants, who killed 1,400 people and abducted 240 others on 7 October, would just exploit any pause.
Even before the conflict closed in on them, the enclave’s hospitals were struggling to cope, with medical supplies, clean water and fuel to power generators running out and surgery being done without anaesthetics.
Israel has warned people to evacuate but doctors and the hospital director said that was impossible.
“We are talking about 45 babies in incubators, 52 children in intensive care units, hundreds of wounded and patients, and tens of thousands of displaced people,” they said.
Palestinian officials said more than 10,800 Gaza residents had been killed as of Thursday, about 40% of them children. (Source Reuters and other agencies)