Four days following the Israeli military’s intrusion into Al-Shifa Hospital, the Gaza Strip’s largest medical facility, the World Health Organization (WHO) labelled the complex a “death zone.” The invasion led to several patient deaths due to the shutdown of medical services.
In response to the ongoing crisis, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged for an immediate ceasefire amid the continuous attacks on the besieged enclave.
Echoing Guterres’s call, top UN officials stressed the urgency of improving conditions for the 2.3 million inhabitants of Gaza, where 1.7 million people have been displaced since October 7. The region has witnessed over 12,000 Palestinian casualties. “This war is having a staggering and unacceptable number of civilian casualties, including women and children, every day,” Guterres stated, emphasizing the need for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.
Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, also condemned the recent events, highlighting potential violations of international law and possible war crimes.
Situation at Al-Shifa Hospital and Allegations Against Hamas
The WHO reported that 291 patients, including 32 critically ill babies, were present in Al-Shifa Hospital when a UN team was allowed to tour the facility. Israeli forces had previously ordered an evacuation, leading hundreds to flee.
Israeli officials have claimed that Hamas used the hospital complex and its underground tunnels for military purposes, an allegation denied by both Palestinian authorities and Al-Shifa officials. Israel has yet to provide conclusive evidence supporting their claim of a military base at the hospital. In contrast, the United States, Israel’s closest ally, has supported the assertion regarding the tunnels.