The announcement comes amid reports of repeated Israeli attacks on the Palestinian enclave’s main medical center
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Sunday a loss of communication with its focal points at Gaza’s largest hospital, Al Shifa. Israel has been targeting the facility, claiming that Hamas uses it as a command center for terrorist activities.
According to the WHO statement, the staff could have “joined tens of thousands of displaced people who had sought shelter on the hospital grounds and are fleeing the area.”
“There are reports that some of those who fled the hospital have been shot at, wounded, or killed,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. He added that according to the latest reports “the hospital was surrounded by tanks.”
The organization has repeatedly called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and safe medical evacuations of the critically injured and sick. It is “gravely concerned” for the safety of health workers and hundreds of patients, including children.
The WHO also said that the Al Shifa staff had reported a lack of clean water and the risk of intensive care units, ventilators, and incubators being shut down due to a lack of fuel.
On Saturday night, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were attacking the area around Al Shifa, noting that ambulances couldn’t move due to the “crazy bombing.”
IDF official Colonel Moshe Tetro denied that the medical center was in danger, claiming that “there are clashes between IDF troops and Hamas terrorists around the hospital” but “there is no siege.”
A few weeks earlier, IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said that Hamas was “operating in and under Shifa hospital,” adding that “terrorists move freely” in Gaza’s largest medical center.
The Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7, killing some 1,200 people and taking 240 hostages, according to the latest update from Israeli officials, who have revised the death toll as they are still working on identifying the victims. In response, West Jerusalem made a declaration of war and launched massive airstrikes and a ground operation in Gaza. Palestinian officials say the number of casualties on their side has reached 11,000, including more than 4,500 children.