US President Joe Biden has emphasized the need to protect hospitals in the Gaza Strip, including Al Shifa Hospital, as tensions escalate in the region.
Amidst the advancement of Israeli tanks toward the gates of Gaza’s main hospital, Biden expressed his hope for less aggressive action from Israel. Israeli forces claim that Al Shifa Hospital, the primary medical centre in Gaza City, is situated over tunnels used by Hamas fighters, allegations that Hamas has denied.
The conflict between Israel and Hamas intensified following the latter’s incursion into southern Israel on October 7, leading to widespread casualties and hostage situations, as reported by Israel. In response to the mounting crisis, the armed wing of Hamas has proposed releasing up to 70 women and children held in Gaza for a five-day ceasefire.
The Gaza health ministry reports over 11,000 fatalities due to the Israeli bombardment, with children constituting a significant portion of the casualties. The Israeli military campaign has also rendered a large part of Gaza’s population homeless and prompted evacuation orders for the northern half of the region.
Crisis at Al Shifa Hospital and Biden’s Response
The siege of Al Shifa Hospital has resulted in numerous patient deaths, including three newborns, due to the lack of power and medical supplies. Despite Israel’s efforts to facilitate the transfer of medical equipment to Al Shifa, there has been no confirmation of these supplies reaching the hospital.
Biden’s recent comments underscore the critical importance of protecting medical facilities in conflict zones. He expressed optimism about ongoing negotiations involving Qatar to pause the conflict and address the prisoner release, reiterating that hospitals must be safeguarded during such crises.