Christian Lindmeier, a spokesman for the WHO, said about 600 people remained in the hospital, with others sheltering in hallways, reports the BBC…reports Asian Lite News
Thousands could be trapped inside Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital, which is also tackling power cuts and a lack of fuel due to nearby fighting, while officials have warned of rotting bodies piling up there.
The hospital is “nearly a cemetery”, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.
Christian Lindmeier, a spokesman for the WHO, said about 600 people remained in the hospital, with others sheltering in hallways, reports the BBC.
“Around the hospital there are dead bodies which cannot be taken care of or not even be buried or taken away to any sort of morgue,” he said. “The hospital is not working at all any more as it should. It’s nearly a cemetery.”
Doctors have also spoken of bodies piling up and rotting at the hospital.
Dr Mohamed Abu Selmia, Al-Shifa’s manager, said there were about 150 bodies decomposing, “leaving unpleasant odours”.
He said the hospital was under a “blockade”, and that dogs had started eating corpses. The area around the hospital has seen intense fighting in recent days.
US President Joe Biden said he hoped to see “less intrusive action” at the hospital, which he said “must be protected”.
Gaza City has seen an intensification of fighting between Israeli and Hamas forces in recent days, much of which has been taking place in streets close to the hospital. There have been reports of tanks and armoured vehicles being within metres of the hospital gate.
Israel accuses Hamas of operating a command-and-control centre in tunnels underneath the hospital, which Hamas and the hospital deny. It also accuses Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, of “preventing humanitarian solutions”. Israel’s army has also said that while there are clashes close to Al-Shifa, there is no shooting at the hospital itself nor a siege, and that anyone wanting to leave can do so.
The Hamas-run health ministry has said there are at least 2,300 people still inside the hospital – up to 650 patients, 200 to 500 staff and around 1,500 people seeking shelter.
‘Hamas fighters hiding in hospital basement’
Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesman Read Adm Daniel Hagari has said that Hamas has kept Israel hostages at a hosipital basement, and it has evidence including photographs of the same.
Hagari further said that the Israeli Navy’s elite Shayetet 13 commando unit and the 401st Armoured Brigade have raided Gaza City’s Rantisi Hospital, which treats children, and that Hamas operatives were hiding there.
“Underneath the hospital, in the basement, we found a Hamas command and control centre, suicide-bomb vests, grenades, AK-47 assault rifles, explosive devices, RPGs, and other weapons, computers, money, etc,” Hagari said.
“We also found signs that indicate that Hamas held hostages here,” he said, adding, “This is currently under our investigation,” but that the IDF has intelligence to verify it.
“Additionally, we found evidence that Hamas came back from the massacre (in southern Israel) on October 7 to this hospital, among others, after butchering Israelis in their homes,” he added.
“Hamas hides in hospitals. Today, we will expose this to the world,” he added.
Hagari also said that the IDF has been working to enable the safe evacuation of patients from Rantisi over the last week, as well as from other hospitals in northern Gaza.
“Israel helped the hospital managers evacuate the Gaza patients to a safer hospital,” he said, adding that the IDF has been informed that “the last 18 patients in the Rantisi Hospital had safely evacuated to a safer hospital.”
“This is because our war is against Hamas, not against the people in Gaza. Especially not the sick, the women, or the children,” IDF spokesman Hagari said.
“Our war is against Hamas, who use them as human shields,” Hagari added.
In the basement of Rantisi, the footage showed a Hamas armoury with grenades, bombs, and RPGs. He highlighted the dangers to patients of explosives in hospitals. The footage also showed a motorcycle in the basement that he believes was driven here, presumably with a hostage.
Nearby, he also portrayed what he claimed were several indications that hostages were held here, including an improvised toilet and other infrastructure to hold hostages, The Times of Israel reported.
Israeli forensic teams were on their way to the hospital to investigate the evidence, Read Adm Hagari said.
He added that they might have evacuated the hospital with the patients.
He also indicated that other Gaza hospitals were also being used by Hamas. “The world should know that,” he said, adding, “It’s a war crime, a crime against humanity and a crime against international law.”
“We will free our hostages from Gaza, and free Gaza from Hamas — for the sake of the people of Israel, for the people of Gaza as well, and the world.”
The IDF spokesperson also claimed that he took some foreign correspondents with him and that they came under fire as they were leaving.
Meanwhile, Lt Gen Herzi Halevi, IDF Chief of Staff, assured residents during a Northern Command assessment in Safed, pledging robust action plans in response to recurrent rocket and missile attacks by Hezbollah and allied factions.
“We are preparing strongly with action plans for the north. Our mission is to bring security. The security situation will no remain such that the residents of the north do not feel safe to return to their homes,” The Times of Israel quoted Halevi as saying.
The IDF also said that Halevi approved plans of action and instructed the Northern Command to maintain a high level of readiness. (ANI)
ALSO READ-Jaishankar meets Cameron on his first day in office