Second Gaza hospital evacuation completed amid fighting

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The Israeli government says militarily defeating Hamas is key to freeing hostages in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli government says militarily defeating Hamas is key to freeing hostages in the Gaza Strip.

The World Health Organisation has completed a second evacuation mission from Gaza’s Nasser Hospital but voiced concern for nearly 150 patients and medics who remain at the site amid continuing fighting.

The Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza’s second-largest, stopped working last week after a week-long Israeli siege followed by a raid, the United Nations agency said. 

WHO staff and other aid groups have so far evacuated 32 critical patients including injured children and those with paralysis, but the agency is concerned for those left behind with supplies dwindling.

“WHO fears for the safety and well-being of the patients and health workers remaining in the hospital and warns that further disruption to lifesaving care for the sick and injured would lead to more deaths,” the WHO said on Tuesday on X, saying those remaining included 130 patients and 15 medics.

Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is “not willing to pay any price” to free hostages. (EPA PHOTO)

Israel says Hamas, the Islamist group that has run Gaza since 2007, uses hospitals for cover. Hamas denies this and says Israel’s allegations serve as a pretext to destroy the healthcare system.

Efforts to transfer the remaining patients are continuing, WHO said. The site has no electricity or running water and medical waste and garbage are “creating a breeding ground for disease,” it added.

Palestinian health authorities said the situation had reached a “catastrophic level” and that Israeli forces had effectively converted the site into a “military barracks”.

At least eight patients have already died at the facility, mostly due to fuel shortages and oxygen shortages, Palestinian health authorities have said. They said the lives of those remaining there are directly threatened.

The more than four-month-old war was triggered by a Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7 in which 1200 people were killed and 253 taken hostage, according to Israel.

Intent on destroying Hamas, Israel has responded with an air and ground assault that according to the Gaza health ministry’s tallies has killed 29,195 Palestinians and wounded more than 69,000.

As night fell on Tuesday, Palestinian health officials said two Israeli air strikes in Rafah, Gazans’ last refuge, killed six people including two travelling in a car. In Central Gaza areas, medics said 12 people have been killed, most of them during an air strike on a house in Deir Al-Balah city.

The war has displaced most of the enclave’s 2.3 million people and more than one million of them are now living in UN shelters or in tents and cardboard boxes in the southernmost tip of the enclave, against the border with Egypt.

A little before midnight, an Israeli air strike on a house in the city of Rafah, where more than one million people are concentrated, killed eight people, health officials said.

In the nearby city of Khan Younis, residents said Israeli tanks advanced on the coastal road effectively separating Khan Younis and Rafah from the rest of the enclave.

Reuters