Gaza’s Premature Babies Evacuated to Egypt Amid Health Crisis and Conflict

In a dire humanitarian situation, a group of prematurely-born infants from Gaza’s largest hospital has been urgently evacuated to Egypt for medical treatment. The Palestinian Red Crescent and Egyptian media reported that 28 infants were moved from the Emirati hospital in southern Gaza, previously evacuated from the beleaguered al Shifa hospital. Egyptian television footage depicted medics carefully transferring these tiny infants to mobile incubators.

Initially, health officials indicated that 31 premature babies were transferred, but the World Health Organisation (WHO) later clarified that three remained at the Emirati hospital. These infants, identified by the WHO as having “serious infections,” are now receiving care in Egyptian hospitals. Tragically, eight infants have already perished since al Shifa hospital raised alarms about the perilous conditions affecting 39 premature babies due to shortages of clean water and medicine.

The situation in Gaza has been exacerbated by ongoing conflict, with Israeli military actions coming under scrutiny for their impact on civilian areas and medical facilities. Reports of fighting near another hospital in northern Gaza, the Indonesian Hospital, have prompted fears of another necessary evacuation. The Hamas-led health ministry stated that a shell hit the second floor of this hospital, where over 700 patients and staff were allegedly under Israeli fire, resulting in at least 12 Palestinian deaths and numerous injuries.

Tedros Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO, expressed his shock at the reported attack on the Indonesian Hospital, emphasizing that health workers and civilians should never be subjected to such horrors, particularly within a hospital setting. Marwan Abdallah, a medical worker at al Shifa, recounted the proximity of Israeli tanks and snipers to the hospital, with the facility receiving many dead and wounded following airstrikes and shelling.

Nahed Abu Taaema, director of Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza, relayed concerns about the siege of the Indonesian Hospital and the near-total cutoff of communications there. Amid these harrowing circumstances, Human Rights Watch has reminded all parties that hospitals are protected under the laws of war unless it can be demonstrated that they have been used for hostile acts.

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