The World Health Organization said that Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip, and another hospital with children connected to life support systems, were bombed today (Friday).
The organization added that 20 hospitals in Gaza are now completely out of service. Spokeswoman Margaret Harris, when asked about the statement from Gaza’s Health Ministry regarding an Israeli airstrike on the hospital’s grounds, said, “I do not have details about Al-Shifa Hospital, but we know for sure that it is being bombed.” She also mentioned that Al-Rantisi Hospital, the only one offering pediatric medical services in northern Gaza, is also facing “heavy bombardment.”
When asked for more details, Harris, citing colleagues working there, reported “intense violence” at the site.
Families in Gaza are resorting to Al-Shifa Hospital, located within Gaza City, which is surrounded by Israeli forces. Israel claims that militants are using the area as a base and has asked residents to leave and head south. Harris added that Al-Rantisi Hospital has children on life support and undergoing dialysis, making their safe evacuation impossible.
Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in the same press conference, stated that “problems” were encountered in bringing aid to Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, which is designed for pedestrians and not for trucks. He mentioned that only 65 trucks carrying food, medicine, hygiene supplies, water, and seven ambulances crossed from Egypt to Gaza on Wednesday.
The UN office says this number of trucks is a very small fraction of what used to enter the sector before the latest escalation in the conflict. The office added that none of these aids can reach northern Gaza. Laerke said, “We cannot head north at this stage, which is of course extremely frustrating because we know there are hundreds of thousands still in the north.” He added, “If there is a hell on earth today, its name is northern Gaza Strip… It’s a life of fear in the day and darkness at night, what do you tell your children in such a situation, it’s unimaginable… The fire they see in the sky came to kill them?”
Laerke urged Israel to reopen the Kerem Shalom crossing to allow more aid to pass.
Israel began implementing 4-hour ceasefires in northern Gaza so Palestinians could flee from its retaliatory attacks following the October 7 attack. However, Laerke criticized the ceasefires, saying they were not coordinated with the United Nations. He expressed concern about the overcrowding in Gaza’s shelters as tens of thousands of people move south. He said, “This will only worsen the congestion in UNRWA facilities,” referring to shelters run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.