GAZA/JERUSALEM - A group of 28 prematurely born babies evacuated from Gaza’s biggest hospital were taken into Egypt for urgent treatment on Monday, while Palestinian authorities and the WHO said 12 people were killed at another Gaza hospital encircled by Israeli tanks. The newborns had been in north Gaza’s Al Shifa hospital, where several others died after their incubators were knocked out amid a collapse of medical services during Israel’s military assault on Gaza City.
Live footage aired by Egypt’s Al Qahera TV showed medical staff carefully lifting infants from inside an ambulance and placing them in mobile incubators, which were then wheeled across a car park towards other ambulances. The babies were transported on Sunday to a hospital in Rafah, on the southern border of Hamas-ruled Gaza, so their condition could be stabilised ahead of transfer to Egypt. The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said 12 had been flown on to Cairo.
All of the evacuated babies were “fighting serious infections”, a WHO spokesperson said. Eight infants have died since doctors at Shifa originally raised an international alarm this month about 39 premature babies at risk from a lack of infection control, clean water and medicines in the neo-natal ward.
At the Indonesian Hospital, funded by Jakarta, Gaza’s health ministry said at least 12 Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded by firing into the complex encircled by Israeli tanks. Health officials said 700 patients along with staff were under Israeli fire. The Palestinian news agency WAFA said the facility in the northeast Gaza town of Beit Lahia had been hit by artillery rounds. Hospital staff denied there were any armed militants on the premises.
WHO chief Tedros said he was “appalled” by the attack that he too said had killed 12 people, including patients, citing unspecified reports.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said troops had fired back at fighters in the hospital while taking “numerous measures to minimise harm” to non-combatants. “Overnight, terrorists opened fire from within the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza toward IDF troops operating outside the hospital,” the IDF told Reuters. “In response, IDF troops directly targeted the specific source of enemy fire. No shells were fired toward the hospital.”