GENEVA: The United Nations and the Red Cross expressed concern on Wednesday after Israeli forces stormed Gaza’s largest hospital, demanding the protection of thousands of patients and civilians.
Israeli forces stormed Al-Shifa hospital on Wednesday morning, targeting a Hamas command center in the tunnels beneath thousands of patients and civilians seeking refuge from intense fighting.
“I am appalled by the reports of military attacks on Al Shifa hospital in Gaza,” UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said on X, formerly Twitter.
“The protection of newborns, patients, medical personnel and all civilians must take precedence over all other concerns,” he said.
“Hospitals are not battlefields.”
The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, agreed.
“Reports of the military incursion into Al-Shifa hospital are very worrying,” he wrote on X, noting that the UN health agency had “again lost contact with medical staff at the hospital”.
“We are very concerned about their safety and the safety of their patients.”
In a statement, the International Committee of the Red Cross said it was “deeply concerned about the impact on sick and wounded people, medical personnel and civilians”.
“All measures must be taken to avoid any consequences for them,” he said, insisting that “patients, medical staff and civilians must be protected at all times”.
The UN observed a minute of silence for the 101 female staff killed in Gaza
The ICRC added that it was “in contact with all relevant authorities and continues to closely monitor the situation”.
Israel has vowed to crack down on Hamas after the Palestinian group carried out unprecedented cross-border attacks that killed 1,200 people and took 239 hostage, according to Israel.
Gaza’s health ministry, which is run by Hamas, says the Israeli air and ground offensive that followed killed 11,320 people, mostly civilians, including thousands of children.
Al-Shifa is a key target of the Israeli campaign.
The United Nations has said it estimates there are at least 2,300 people inside – patients, staff and displaced civilians – who may not be able to escape due to heavy fighting.
Witnesses described horrible conditions in the hospital, medical procedures were carried out without anaesthesia, families live in corridors with little food or water, and the stench of decomposing corpses fills the air.
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