Kenzo Tribouillard Agence-France Presse This photo taken on Israel's southern border shows smoke rising above buildings during a bombardment in the Gaza Strip on November 19, 2023.
Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Sarah Benhaida – Agence France-Presse respectively in Gaza and Jerusalem
November 19, 2023
- Middle East
More than 30 Premature babies were evacuated from the Gaza Strip's largest hospital on Sunday for transfer to Egypt, as the Israeli army “continues to expand its operations” against Hamas with intense fighting and bombardment that takes its toll a heavy toll on the population of the territory.
Furthermore, negotiations continue to obtain the release of hostages in the hands of Hamas, on the 44th day of the war triggered by the bloody attack of the Palestinian Islamist movement on Israeli soil, on October 7, on an unprecedented scale in the history of the country. According to the authorities, 1,200 people were killed that day, the vast majority civilians.
In retaliation, Israel vowed to “annihilate” the movement, with its army relentlessly shelling the small Palestinian territory where it launched a ground operation on October 27. But the scale of the destruction arouses criticism from part of the international community.
- In Gaza, the WHO wants to evacuate the al -Chifa, while Israel expands its operations
- After the evacuation of al-Chifa, the long road for the displaced
The 31 premature babies who were still in al-Chifa hospital were transported to a facility set up by the United Arab Emirates in Rafah, southern Gaza, to receive “urgent care in the neonatal intensive care unit.” , the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, indicated on said the general director of hospitals in the Gaza Strip, Mohammed Zaqout.
“These babies suffered a lot” and suffered “significant after-effects,” he explained to the press, because “the water used for their milk was contaminated” and the bottles “were not properly sterilized.” Eight of them died before their transfer, including two on Sunday morning, he added.
“Very concrete evidence”
Saturday, the WHO chief had described al-Chifa hospital as a “death zone” where the situation was “desperate” due to lack of water, electricity, medicine, food and medical equipment.
According to the WHO, patients, medical staff and 2,500 displaced people who had taken refuge in the hospital, a huge complex in the west of Gaza City, left on foot on Saturday to take refuge in the south of the territory, less affected by the war.
The UN organization added that it was preparing the evacuation to other hospitals in Gaza of 291 patients unable to move without medical assistance who are still in need. -Chifa.
France is ready to welcome up to 50 “injured or sick children from Gaza who need urgent care” if this is “useful and necessary”, for his part announced French President Emmanuel Macron.
Al-Chifa hospital is still besieged by Israeli tanks and soldiers are there, Marwan Abou Saada, head of the surgery department, who remained on site, told AFP on Sunday.
“I have heard at least two explosions since the morning,” he said.
According to the army, which invaded the hospital complex on Wednesday, it houses a Hamas hideout, installed in particular in a network of tunnels. It announced on Sunday that it had discovered a 55-meter-long tunnel under the hospital.
“We have very concrete evidence that Hamas is using al-Chifa hospital and others as a command center and of control,” Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog assured Sunday on ABC News. The Islamist movement, in power since 2007, denies these allegations.
The fighting between Israel and Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel, is concentrated in the north of the territory.
The Israeli army said it continued “to expand its operations in new areas of the Gaza Strip”, indicating that it carried out operations in the areas of Jabaliya and Zaytoun on Saturday.
Violent fighting broke out on Sunday between Israeli troops on the ground and Palestinian fighters in the center of Gaza City, transformed into a field of ruins, noted an AFP journalist.
According to the Ministry of Health of Hamas, 41 members of the same family died in an Israeli strike on their house in this neighborhood.
The army announced the death of five soldiers, bringing the number of soldiers killed to 64 in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war.
On Saturday, Hamas claimed that Israeli strikes on the Jabaliya refugee camp, managed by the UN, had left more than 80 dead, including at least 50 in a school housing displaced people. Israel has not confirmed the strikes.
In total, 13,000 people have been killed in Israeli bombings since October 7, including more than 5,500 children, according to the Islamist movement.
“The horrific events” that have occurred over the past 48 hours in Gaza “beyond comprehension,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said on Sunday.
“The killing of so many people in schools turned into shelters,” the evacuation of al-Chifa hospital and the forced displacement of thousands of residents in southern Gaza “go against the basic protections that international law must grant civilians,” he said.
According to the UN, more than two-thirds of the 2.4 million Gazans have been displaced by the war in the territory subjected since October 9 to a “complete siege” by Israel, which has cut off deliveries of food, water , electricity and medicine.
At the American request, Israel, however, agreed to deliver fuel. Around 120,000 liters arrived on Saturday, according to the UN, which considers these deliveries insufficient.
Most of the displaced Palestinians have fled to the south of the territory and are living in precarious conditions as winter approaches.
“Closer than ever”
At the same time, negotiations are progressing on the release of hostages among the 240 people kidnapped and brought back to Gaza on the day of the Hamas attack.
On Sunday, Qatar, which is leading a mediation, affirmed that only “very minor” obstacles remained to a deal. Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdelrahmane Al-Thani spoke of “more logistical […] more practical challenges,” without providing a timetable.
US President Joe Biden's deputy national security adviser, Jon Finer, told NBC that the deal was “closer than ever” and included the release of “several dozen” hostages in exchange for a “prolonged period of pause, several days” in the fighting.
In Israel, pressure is increasing on the government, which has so far refused any ceasefire without the release of the hostages.< /p>
Their relatives will meet Monday evening with “the entire Israeli war cabinet”, according to the Forum of Families of the Hostages and Missing.
Tensions are also high in the occupied West Bank or in the At least two people were killed by the army on Sunday, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
Since October 7, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli settlers and soldiers in the territory, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
In an article published by the Washington Post on Saturday, Joe Biden threatened to ban visas to the United States from “extremist” settlers who attack civilians in the West Bank.”