Sun 26-May-2024

Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza under siege and bombardment

Saturday 11-November-2023

Amid the imminent danger of death from Israeli airstrikes and sniper bullets and the specter of death due to the halt of life support devices with the electricity outage or due to hunger thirst and environmental repercussions the situation appears catastrophic at Al-Shifa Medical Complex the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip.

Dr. Youssef Abu al-Reesh the Deputy Minister of Health in Gaza confirmed the depletion of fuel at Al-Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza leading to the cessation of life support devices in the intensive care unit and the neonatal unit. Meanwhile fires broke out in the courtyard and some sections of the hospital due to Israeli airstrikes.

In a statement to Al Jazeera TV Channel on Saturday morning Abu al-Reesh amidst the sounds of explosions and shelling in the background said that projectiles launched by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) landed in the courtyard of the medical complex causing fires in areas where displaced people were located.

Anticipated disaster in the neonatal unit
Abu al-Reesh confirmed the death of a child from the neonatal unit which houses 37 newborns (premature births) in the neonatal unit all of whom are at risk of death.

He underlined that life support devices and oxygen stations stopped at Al-Shifa Medical Complex and there are stacks of garbage in the departments that threatens an unprecedented catastrophic situation. He pointed to the presence of several corpses that cannot be removed and buried.

Abu al-Reesh affirmed that Al-Shifa Medical Complex is besieged and no one can leave or reach it and anyone who attempts to leave is subjected to IOF gunfire.

He said “The surroundings of Al-Shifa Medical Complex and its interior are under gunfire and we cannot move within the complex which lacks water and food as well and communications are cut off.”

He confirmed that the IOF shelled the intensive care unit forcing the medical teams to transfer patients to other places within the hospital which is difficult to move in confirming the death of one patient in the intensive care unit.

Death threat
Dr. Mohammed Abu Salmiya the director of Al-Shifa Medical Complex said that the IOF fired at a technical engineer critically injuring him as he attempted to repair a malfunction in the neonatal unit.

He confirmed that the hospital is surrounded. Anyone moving inside it from one place to another is subjected to IOF gunfire. There is a real danger to the lives of patients medical staff and the remaining displaced people with the depletion of food and water.

Abu Salmiya warned “We are hours away from announcing more deaths in the neonatal unit the intensive care unit and other departments” emphasizing that medical teams cannot provide medical services in these conditions.

He said that the hospital has turned into mass graves despite warnings about this situation two weeks ago.

The hospital’s director said that the medical teams are trying to coordinate with the Red Cross to be able to bury dozens of corpses of martyrs piled up inside the medical complex.

Real danger
Journalist Mustafa Sarsour reported in an interview from inside Al-Shifa Medical Complex with Al Jazeera saying that about 15000 displaced persons as well as patients and medical staff are still inside the medical complex.

He mentioned that Israeli warplanes targeted a medical warehouse setting it on fire. He pointed out that the IOF is flying a number of drones in the area of the medical complex that target anyone who moves.

Doctors Without Borders: A catastrophic situation
Doctors Without Borders said on Saturday that the attacks on Al-Shifa Hospital have intensified significantly in the past few hours.

The organization said in a statement on the “X” platform: “Our team at the hospital reported a catastrophic situation inside just a few hours ago.”

The organization added: “We spoke on the phone with Dr. Mohammed Obeid a surgeon working for Doctors Without Borders at Al-Shifa Hospital. We asked him about what is happening there and he said ‘I cannot leave the injured patients.’ There is a patient who needs surgery and there is a patient sleeping in our department. We cannot leave the hospital and these sick people inside. As a doctor I have taken an oath to help people in need.”

The organization reiterated its urgent calls to stop the attacks on hospitals and protect medical facilities medical staff and patients.

The organization quoted Dr. Mohammed Abu Mughaiseb the official at the hospital as saying: “Since this morning many medical teams belonging to Doctors Without Borders have stopped working in hospitals in the city of Gaza due to continuous shelling.”

Since the beginning of the Israeli aggression Al-Shifa Medical Complex has been subjected to several Israeli airstrikes resulting in numerous casualties mostly among the displaced.

The medical complex had previously been subjected to Israeli incitement claiming the presence of a Hamas headquarters beneath the hospital a claim denied by the Hamas Movement the Ministry of Health and foreign medical teams that worked in it.

Largest medical complex
It is worth mentioning that Al-Shifa Hospital is the main operational health facility in Gaza City providing emergency and surgical care. It houses hundreds of patients and displaced civilians.

Al-Shifa Medical Complex is the largest health institution providing medical services in the Gaza Strip. It was established in 1946. It developed over time to become the largest medical complex with three specialized hospitals and 25% of the hospital staff in the entire Gaza Strip.

The medical complex is located at a crossroads in the central western region of Gaza City overlooking Az al-Din al-Qassam and al-Wahda streets. It is surrounded by the Al-Shifa Mosque and its area is 45000 square meters.

Departments of Al-Shifa Medical Complex
The complex currently includes three specialized hospitals:
1.Women and Maternity Hospital with a neonatal unit.
2.Internal Medicine Hospital.
3.Surgical Hospital.
In addition to the emergency department intensive care unit radiology blood bank planning and others.

The hospital provides its services specifically to the residents of Gaza City in addition to receiving cases from other cities that do not have specialized hospitals.

The hospital offers a variety of medical and health services and operations to a large number of residents. For example in 2020 the hospital provided medical treatment services to 460000 citizens in addition to providing health services to about 250000 citizens in the emergency department. In the same year 25000 surgeries and 69 kidney dialysis sessions were performed and 13000 childbirth cases were recorded.

The number of employees at Al-Shifa Medical Complex is approximately a quarter of the total hospital staff in the Gaza Strip with about 1500 employees including over 500 doctors 760 nurses 32 pharmacists and 200 administrative staff.


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