Israeli ground forces entered into an intense fight with Hamas militants near Gaza’s largest hospital, where health officials say thousands of medics, patients and displaced people are trapped with no electricity and dwindling supplies.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected international calls for a ceasefire unless it includes the release of all the nearly 240 hostages captured by Hamas.
Heavy airstrikes and shelling, including around Shifa Hospital were reported. Israel, without providing evidence, alleges that Hamas has a command post inside and under the hospital compound. This allegation is denied by Hamas and hospital staff.
The hospital’s last generator ran out of fuel on Saturday, leading to the deaths of three premature babies and four other patients. Another 36 babies are at risk of dying without electricity, said the Hamas health ministry.
Speaking to CNN, Netanyahu asserted that “100 or so” people had been evacuated from Shifa and that Israel had created safe corridors. The Israeli military has said troops would assist in moving babies on Sunday.
The Hamas Health Ministry said there are still 1,500 patients at Shifa, along with 1,500 medical personnel and between 15,000 and 20,000 people seeking shelter.
The U.N. regional directors of the World Health Organization and others said in a statement that more than half of Gaza’s hospitals are closed and the rest are under “massive strain.”
More than 11,000 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and minors, have been killed since the war began, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. At least 1,200 people have been killed on the Israeli side, mostly civilians killed in the initial Hamas attack.