Al-Shifa Hospital, the biggest medical facility in the Gaza Strip, no longer functions as a hospital, the World Health Organization says.
The situation in Al-Shifa Hospital "is dire and perilous," the WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on Sunday on X, a social network previously called Twitter.
Earlier that day, the WHO announced that it lost all contact with the staff in the medical facility.
"It's been 3 days without electricity, without water and with very poor internet which has severely impacted our ability to provide essential care. The constant gunfire and bombings in the area have exacerbated the already critical circumstances," Ghebreyesus wrote.
.@WHO has managed to get in touch with health professionals at the Al-Shifa hospital in #Gaza.undefined Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) November 12, 2023
The situation is dire and perilous.
It's been 3 days without electricity, without water and with very poor internet which has severely impacted our ability to provide essential…
The WHO says the number of patient fatalities has increased significantly, and "the hospital is not functioning as a hospital anymore."
"The intensive care unit suffered damage from bombardment, while areas of the hospital where displaced people were sheltering have also been damaged. An intubated patient reportedly died when electricity was at one point cut," the statement reads.
Tedros called for an immediate ceasefire, saying that "the world cannot stand silent" while hospitals are transformed into "scenes of death, devastation, and despair."
Over one-third of hospitals have shut down in Gaza, with the remaining ones running out of essential medications, including anesthetics, according to previous reports. Medical staff said an increasing number of women were undergoing C-sections without anesthesia.
Calls for immediate ceasefire
On October 7, militants from the terrorist group Hamas attacked Israeli towns, kibbutzim, and military bases in the Gaza Strip. The gunmen killed approximately 1,200 people, including women, children, and the elderly, and took 241 hostages, most of whom are still in Gaza.
In response, Israel has launched its ground and air offensive. However, Israeli President Isaac Herzog denied that his country's troops were striking Al-Shifa hospital in northern Gaza.
"We deny this at all, there is a lot of spin by Hamas... but there's electricity in Shifa, everything is operating," he said in a recent interview for BBC.
More than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, according to the health ministry run by Hamas.
Herzog acknowledged that there had been civilian deaths in Gaza but said Israel is carrying out operations "according to the rules of international humanitarian law" and alerting civilians to evacuate.
Israeli military spokesman said Israel would help evacuate babies from Al-Shifa hospital following a request from the hospital administration. However, Palestinian health officials and people in the hospital rejected Israel’s claims that it was helping vulnerable people to evacuate, saying that fighting continued just outside the facility, the Associated Press reports.
International organizations and aid groups have called for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. Israel has rejected calls for a ceasefire as it may strengthen Hamas.
- World Health Organization. WHO loses communication with contacts in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza amid reports of attacks.