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Three babies die as Israel besieges Gaza’s largest hospital, health officials say

Three newborn babies have died in Gaza’s largest hospital after it went “out of service” amid intense fighting in the area, according to the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health, who say the facility is under siege from Israeli forces.

Doctors are now being forced to carry out artificial respiration by hand on the 36 other babies they are caring for, Al-Bursh said. Doctors have covered the babies with soft lining and blankets as part of this effort.

Ministry spokesman Dr. Ashraf al-Qidra said he was trapped inside the complex in northern Gaza, saying it was “out of service” after repeatedly being targeted by Israeli fire.

“The intensive care unit, pediatric department, and oxygen devices have stopped working,” al-Qidra said.

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders said it could not contact any of its staff at Al-Shifa Hospital who had described a “catastrophic situation” inside.

In a statement Saturday, the organization said “ambulances can no longer move to collect the injured, and non-stop bombardment prevents patients and staff from evacuating.”

Israel has been stepping up its offensive inside Gaza as part of its response to the surprise Hamas attacks that left 1,200 people dead.

Since then, Israel has been bombarding and blockading Gaza, an already impoverished and densely packed territory, leaving more than 11,000 people dead, according to Palestinian health officials. The assault has sparked escalating warnings about healthcare in Gaza.

The Director General for the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), Robert Mardini, said the organization was “shocked and appalled by the images and reports coming from Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza.”

“The unbearably desperate situation for patients & staff trapped inside must stop. Now,” Mardini said in a post on X.

Staff and patients trapped

Al-Bursh said Al-Shifa Hospital was under “complete siege” with staff and patients unable to evacuate.

There are still more than 400 people being treated at the hospital and around 20,000 displaced people seeking shelter in the hospital complex, according to Al-Bursh.

“The situation is very difficult and dire. After a slowdown in shelling this afternoon, the shelling and gun fire resumed, heavily targeting anything that moves,” Sarsour said, adding that medics inside the facility were working by candlelight and that food is growing scarce for both doctors and patients.

Al-Bursh said people who had been injured were instead being transported to the Al-Ahli Hospital as Al-Shifa was inaccessible.

Humanitarian agencies have been sounding the alarm about the situation at Al-Shifa Hospital. Angelita Caredda, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Middle East director, said in a statement that the group was “horrified by reports of relentless attacks on Gaza’s hospitals.”

“Patients, including babies, and civilians seeking relief are trapped under attack. It is an affront to wage war around and on hospitals,” she said.

Martin Griffiths, head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, also condemned the attacks, saying that “there can be no justification for acts of war in health care facilities.”

In a statement posted on X, Griffiths wrote that people using and working at Gazan healthcare facilities “must trust that they are places of shelter and not of war.”

Other hospitals have been caught up in the fighting. On Friday the director of two facilities said Israeli tanks had them encircled.

This post appeared first on cnn.com

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