The death of Al-Shifa hospital, the last bastion of humanity in northern Gaza

The death of Al-Shifa hospital, the last bastion of humanity in northern Gaza

NB of Mondoweiss : This dispatch was transmitted by Mondoweiss correspondent in Gaza, Tareq Hajjaj, via voice note.

Two days ago, the injured left Al-Shifa Hospital with wounds still bleeding, some on wheelchairs, others pulled on carts. Those who arrived in the south a few days ago said the Al-Shifa Hospital administration strongly advised them to flee, as the hospital would soon no longer be operational. At present it is completely closed.

These guidelines did not come out of nowhere. They were based on the hospital administration’s predictions of what would happen during the ground invasion, given Israel’s policy of systematically targeting medical facilities. In the days leading up to the exodus from Al-Shifa, Israeli forces continued to move closer, shelling and shelling nearby buildings and exterior parts of the hospital, and launching missiles at the hospital courtyard where the refugees slept, who were cut into pieces.

The tanks continued to approach Al-Shifa, the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip, until they arrived at its gate.

Health Ministry spokespeople remained in Al-Shifa, hoping that the injured and dead would reach the hospital, where they could be documented and counted. These hopes have since been dashed, as no one is allowed to leave or go to hospital for treatment or shelter.

The past few hours have been the most catastrophic for hospitals in northern Gaza, which include Al-Shifa, Al-Quds Hospital, Rantisi Pediatric Hospital and Nasr Hospital in Gaza City, as well as the Indonesia in the north, which was the target last week of bombings and “fire barrages” intended to force medical staff, patients and refugees to evacuate.

Medical workers have suffered the most in recent rounds. But many medical teams refused to leave hospitals, staying behind to care for patients in general and neonatal intensive care units who could not move without dying. These include 48 premature babies whose incubators and ventilators failed.

Just yesterday it was announced that two of these children had died due to lack of oxygen and heating. Photos began circulating showing hospital staff swaddling the last of the infants and laying them close together to conserve heat and keep them warm.

“We see injured people. We hear them calling for help, but there’s nothing we can do.”

PA Health Minister Mai Keileh said medical staff could no longer move from building to building to carry out their work. Attack drones hovering over the medical complex target anything that moves. This has led to corpses piling up in the hospital yard, and anyone who tries to go out to collect them is also killed. Keileh said medical staff were unable to bury more than 100 victims, and their bodies began to rot in the yard. Stray dogs are now starting to eat their flesh.

A Gaza government spokesman said yesterday that Israeli army snipers stationed in nearby buildings shot a patient in his bed through a window, as well as a maintenance worker who attempted to to rewire the hospital’s power lines in order to restore electricity to part of the hospital. The same government source said a group of medical staff tried to leave the hospital waving white flags and headed towards the main entrance of the hospital, but drones also targeted them. directly, killing most of them. Those who survived the initial explosion lay on the ground for hours, bleeding and crying for help, until they too died.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported similar facts, citing the testimony of Dr Mohammed Obeid in Al-Shifa:

“We are on the fourth floor. A sniper attacked four patients inside the hospital. One of them was shot in the neck, he is quadriplegic, and the other was shot in the abdomen. »

MSF also confirmed government information that the injured were left abandoned in the courtyard. An MSF staff member said at the scene:

“There are deaths in the streets. We see people getting shot. We see injured people. We hear them calling for help, but there is nothing we can do. It’s too dangerous to go out”.

The Mahdi maternity hospital in northern Gaza was also the target of bombing and artillery fire. People standing near the windows were shot by Israeli snipers, while hovering Israeli drones targeted anything that moved in the hospital courtyard, even medical teams, who were trapped inside.

Dr. Basel Mahdi, who works at the hospital, wrote online that “no one dies prematurely. But many die without dignity.”

“May God never forgive you,” he wrote, addressing Arab heads of state. “You betrayed us. You have betrayed your Arab identity. »

Half an hour after posting this message, Dr. Mahdi was killed while trying to leave the hospital.

No one left to document the genocide

The medical system in the northern Gaza Strip subsequently collapsed. No hospitals or medical centers are operational. The hundreds of thousands of civilians who remained in the north no longer have anywhere to seek treatment for their wounded, who are piling up every day.

And they were treated the same as hospital staff. When someone tries to move and flee to the south, they are shot or bombed on the spot.

Furthermore, the invasion of Israeli troops and the raid on houses whose residents are still inside have opened the door to new violations. Doctor Muhammad Nizam Ziyara posted a message on social media regarding his family’s ordeal in the al-Nasr neighborhood:

“Yesterday, Israeli occupying forces entered our house in the Nasr neighborhood of Gaza after blowing up the front door. They gathered the whole family in one room, then started beating and mistreating everyone. They turned the house into a military base. The soldiers then separated the women and young children from the men and boys, who they continued to beat before taking them to the nearby UNRWA school. We have not received any news of their fate in the last 24 hours. Women and children were taken out of the house and used as human shields, forcing them to walk in front of the military tanks and head towards the southern part (of the Nasr district). At present we have no news of their fate”.

Israel’s claims that it is targeting these hospitals because Hamas is using them for military purposes have been repeatedly denied by hospital administrations, who have said they are prepared to receive an international delegation to search the hospitals and their lands in order to find evidence of the existence of these alleged underground tunnels and command centers. The only Israeli response has been to increase artillery fire and bombings, assassinating all those who try to escape.

When it is established that Israel’s allegations regarding Al-Shifa were baseless, Israel may find an excuse to raze and destroy this last bastion of humanity in Gaza. At the same time, it will seek to kill the remaining staff of the Gaza Health Ministry, who are responsible for documenting and counting the dead and injured.

In doing so, Israel seeks to silence the ministry as well as the journalists still present in the hospital, in order to completely block information and allow it to carry out its massacres without anyone being able to see it. As more and more people are killed and left to rot in the open, there will be no one left to document the scale of the ongoing genocide.

Translated by: AFPS