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World

8,000 displaced people evacuated from Gaza hospital: Red Cross

Published February 6, 2024
Emergency workers bring a Palestinian man, who was released after being detained with other civilians for questioning by Israeli forces amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militant group, waits at Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah on February 1, 2024. Photo: AFP
Emergency workers bring a Palestinian man, who was released after being detained with other civilians for questioning by Israeli forces amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militant group, waits at Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah on February 1, 2024. Photo: AFP

GENEVA: Around 8,000 displaced people have been evacuated from a besieged hospital in Gaza’s main southern city of Khan Yunis where they had sought refuge, the Red Cross said on Tuesday.

“The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is beyond catastrophic,” Tommaso Della Longa, spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), told reporters in Geneva.

He said the ICRC was told the Al-Amal hospital, run by the Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS), had been largely emptied following a lengthy siege by Israeli forces.

“Eight thousand internally displaced people who sought refuge in our Palestinian Red Crescent hospital in Khan Yunis … left the hospital yesterday”, he explained.

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He said Al-Amal had been under siege for more than two weeks, surrounded by heavy shelling and fighting. It was hit several times, including on Friday, when a PRCS volunteer was killed.

Around 100 elderly, wounded and disabled patients remained there, with about 100 staff and volunteers, the ICRC said.

Even before the evacuation, Al-Amal had faced immense challenges, including dire shortages of medicines, food and water, Della Longa said.

“Replenishing stocks was almost impossible”, as was access for ambulances.

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The PCRS said on Tuesday: “Continuous violent bombardment and gunfire in the vicinity of the association’s Al-Amal hospital (continued), resulting in shrapnel flying at the hospital.”

Protected under international law

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said circumstances at nearby Nasser hospital were also alarming.

“The Israeli occupation is tightening its siege on Nasser medical complex and targeting its perimeter intensively,” said spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra.

He said there were 450 wounded people, 300 medical staff and 10,000 displaced people on the premises, which was suffering “severe shortages” of anaesthetics and medicines.

“Generators in Nasser medical complex will stop within four days as a result of the lack of fuel,” al-Qudra said. He also accused Israeli forces of “preventing the movement of ambulances”.

Hospitals – protected under international humanitarian law – have been hit repeatedly during Israeli strikes on Gaza since the war erupted four months ago.

The Israeli military accuses Hamas of using medical facilities as command centres, a charge it denies.

Hamas fighters’ October 7 attack in Israel resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

The fighters seized around 250 hostages.

Israel has retaliated with a massive military offensive that has killed at least 27,585 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Palestinian territory’s health ministry.

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