The al-Chifa hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip, targeted by Israeli raids, has become a "death zone", denounced the World Health Organization who asked its evacuation, at the moment when The Israeli army is expanding its operations in the besieged territory.
The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, in power in the Gaza Strip since 2007, said on Saturday that Israeli strikes on the Jabaliya refugee camp, managed by the UN in the north of the territory, had left more than 80 dead, including at least 50 in a school that houses displaced people.
Images broadcast on social networks authenticated by AFP show bodies, some covered in blood, on the floors of the al-Fakhoura school in the Jabaliya camp, targeted by a strike according to the Hamas Ministry of Health, where mattresses had been installed under tables.
Questioned about this strike, the Israeli army told AFP that it had “received reports of an incident in the Jabaliya region”, adding that 'it was “under examination.”
The second strike, which hit a house in Jabaliya, killed 32 members of the same family, including 19 children, according to the Ministry of Health of Hamas.
“We are receiving appalling images of numerous deaths and injuries once again in a UNRWA school which sheltered thousands of displaced people,” the head of this UN refugee agency wrote on X (ex-Twitter). Palestinians, Philippe Lazzarini, demanding that “these attacks” stop.
– Extension of operations –
As the war enters its 44th day on Sunday, the Israeli army “continues to expand its operations in new areas of the Gaza Strip”, it announced, indicating that it had carried out operations in the areas of Jabaliya on Saturday and Zaytoun, in the north of the territory.
An Israeli armored vehicle in Gaza City, November 18, 2023 © AFP – Belal Al SABBAGH
Hundreds of people who had taken refuge in al-Chifa hospital, the largest in Gaza, left the premises on Saturday after being ordered to do so by the Israeli army, according to the director of the establishment and a journalist of the AFP on site. The army denied having ordered the evacuation, saying only that it had “responded to a request” from the director of al-Chifa hospital.
Stranded for twenty days in al-Chifa, Rami Charab arrived in the center of the Gaza Strip on Saturday, after hours of walking.
“At eight in the morning,” the 24-year-old recalls, the loudspeakers rang out. An Israeli soldier ordered the evacuation of the hospital “within an hour or else we will be bombed”.
Palestinians flee the northern Gaza Strip towards the south, November 18, 2023 © AFP – MOHAMMED ABED
On the Salaheddine road crossing the territory from north to south, which Rami Charab took when leaving, a cohort of Palestinians advances slowly. A man carries his disabled daughter.
The organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) announced that a family member of one of its employees had been killed and another injured during the attack on a convoy evacuating 137 people from al-Chifa. MSF did not specify the origin of the shots.
– “Death zone” –
Al-Chifa hospital has become a “death zone” where the situation is “desperate” due to the lack of water, electricity, medicine, food and medical equipment, the Organization said on Saturday evening World Health Organization (WHO), which carried out a one-hour mission there on Saturday.
According to the WHO, the huge hospital complex still housed 25 caregivers and 291 patients on Saturday, including 32 babies in critical condition, 22 patients on dialysis and two in intensive care. Many injured people are suffering from serious infections due to a lack of antibiotics and poor hygiene conditions, the organization reported.
“WHO and partners are urgently developing plans to “immediate evacuation of remaining patients, staff and their families” to other hospitals in Gaza, WHO added.