Since October 7, the Israeli air and ground offensive in Gaza has resulted in a tragic death toll surpassing 13,000, including at least 5,500 children. The escalating conflict has drawn international concern due to the high number of civilian casualties.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, addressing the situation on Sunday, described the civilian death toll as “staggering and unacceptable” and reiterated his call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that among the casualties are 37 Palestinian, four Israeli, and one Lebanese journalist. Additionally, nine journalists have been injured, three are missing, and thirteen have been arrested since the conflict began. The CPJ has also noted multiple incidents of assaults, threats, cyberattacks, and censorship, emphasizing that journalists, as civilians, must not be targeted.
Adding to the turmoil, Israeli troops have ordered the evacuation of Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest medical facility, which has become a focal point in the conflict. Israel alleges that Hamas operates a base underneath the hospital, a claim the militants deny. Before the evacuation order, approximately 2,300 patients, staff, and displaced Palestinians were sheltering at Al-Shifa.
Evacuation Challenges Amidst Intense Combat
The situation at Al-Shifa Hospital has become increasingly dire, with dozens of deaths reported due to power cuts and fuel shortages amidst the ongoing combat. Despite repeated Israeli demands for the hospital’s evacuation, medical professionals argue that moving the patients is not feasible.
Hospital director Mohammed Abu Salmiya recounted Israeli instructions for the evacuation, emphasizing the desperate situation as patients and staff were told to move on foot towards the seafront.