Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza, the largest in the region, has buried 179 individuals, including infants, in a “mass grave” within its compound, as stated by Mohammad Abu Salmiyah, the hospital’s chief. The severe humanitarian crisis in the area is underscored by the hospital director’s acknowledgment that they were compelled to resort to a mass grave for burials. Following the depletion of the hospital’s fuel supplies, seven babies and 29 intensive care unit patients were laid to rest. Al Shifa Hospital faces critical challenges, encompassing the lack of electricity, presence of decomposing bodies, and an overall shortage of essential resources.
Gaza City’s Al Shifa Hospital encountered a blockade by Israeli forces lasting over 72 hours, restricting access and contributing to a dire situation. Israel alleges that the hospital sits above tunnels used by Hamas, accusing the group of employing hospitals and patients as human shields—a claim refuted by Hamas and Gaza health officials. The United Nations expresses concern for the potential thousands, possibly over 10,000 individuals, including patients, staff, and displaced civilians inside Al Shifa, unable to escape due to intense fighting nearby.
In the same region, a second major hospital, Al Quds, has also been isolated from the outside world for a week. International humanitarian law protects hospitals and medical personnel, and conflicting parties must ensure their safeguarding. Despite Israel’s commitment to help evacuate critically ill babies, such efforts have not materialized. The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza reports a significant number of casualties, with a substantial proportion being civilians and children. Israel’s military operations, creating pauses for civilians to flee through humanitarian corridors, resist calls for a broader ceasefire until all hostages held by Hamas are released.