An attempt to extract patients from a hospital in northern Gaza had to be abandoned on Monday after the facility came under “continuing shelling and shooting,” according to a local humanitarian organization.
The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said its convoy of vehicles was unable to reach the Al-Quds Hospital—one of several medical facilities which has stopped functioning completely as Israel’s forces continue to conduct military operations inside the besieged Gaza Strip. The failure of the evacuation—which Israel had ordered—means the hospital’s staff, patients, and others remain “trapped inside the hospital without food, water, or electricity.”
In a statement on X, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Israeli soldiers were targeted by “an RPG and an anti-tank missile” fired by a “terrorist squad that had assimilated into a group of civilians at the entrance to the hospital.” Hagari said the militants then went “back to hiding in the area of the hospital,” and the IDF responded with “live fire and shell fire towards the sources of the shooting.”
He said that “approximately 21 terrorists were killed” while Israeli forces avoided any casualties of their own. “This incident is another example of the continuous exploitation by Hamas of sensitive sites, including hospitals, to shoot at IDF forces,” Hagari added.
A similarly dire situation was unfolding Monday at the Al-Shifa, the biggest hospital in Gaza. Israeli tanks have now reached the gates of the facility, where 32 patients have already died in the last three days as a result of power to the site being cut off, according to the local Hamas-controlled health ministry. Three newborn babies were among the dead, according to a spokesperson for the ministry.
Ashraf Al-Qidra, the spokesperson, told Reuters that Israeli drones and snipers are firing into the hospital, preventing patients and staff from being able to move around inside the facility. “We are besieged and are inside a circle of death,” he said. It’s thought that at least 650 patients remain inside.
Israel, which launched its assault on Gaza in response to Hamas’ terror attacks on Oct. 7, claims Hamas is using Al-Shifa as a command center for its operations. Hamas has denied the accusation. On Sunday, the IDF shared video online purportedly showing its soldiers risking their lives to “hand-deliver 300 liters of fuel” to the hospital for “urgent medical purposes,” further claiming that “Hamas forbade the hospital from taking it.”
According to Qidra, 300 liters of fuel would be enough to power the hospital for just half an hour, and that between 8,000 and 10,000 liters are needed every day to keep the facility running. An unnamed Israeli official told Reuters that 300 liters would last Al-Shifa several hours due to the fact that only the emergency room is still operational.
The fuel crisis in Gaza could soon create even greater misery. Thomas White, the Gaza director for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), said Monday that the humanitarian operation in the enclave “will grind to a halt in the next 48 hours as no fuel is allowed to enter Gaza.” The agency’s Commissioner-General Phillipe Lazzarini separately told donors that the UNRWA’s fuel depot has run dry and the organization would no longer be able to remove sewage, resupply hospitals, or even supply safe drinking water.
The UNRWA is currently providing shelter to almost 800,000 people, around half of the total number of Gazans who have fled their homes since Israel’s reprisal attacks began. The agency itself has faced an unprecedented tide of bloodshed since the conflict broke out. On Monday, U.N. offices around the world lowered their flags to half-mast in remembrance of the 101 UNRWA workers killed in Gaza since the fighting erupted—the highest ever number of U.N. employees dead as a result of a single conflict.