31 premature babies are evacuated from Gaza's besieged hospital

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Health officials said that 31 premature infants were evacuated from a hospital in the Gaza Strip that has seen intense fighting between Israeli forces and the militant group Hamas. 

In a news release on Sunday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the babies were evacuated from Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza to another one in the southern part of the strip. Israeli forces have entered the hospital to look for suspected Hamas operations there, which Hamas and hospital officials have denied. 

The infants were all transported in six ambulances supplied and staffed by the Palestine Red Crescent, the health agency noted. 

“These premature and low birthweight babies had earlier been moved from the neonatal unit in Al-Shifa to a safer area in the hospital, due to lack of electricity to run their life support, and security risks in the hospital,” WHO said in the release, noting that two infants died a day before the evacuation took place. 

The health agency also said the evacuation, which was requested by health workers and patients at the hospital, became necessary after the hospital was no longer able to function due to “a lack of clean water, fuel, medical supplies, food, other essential items and the intense hostilities.” 

WHO also expressed concern about the safety and health needs of patients and employees who remain at Al-Shifa Hospital, noting that 250 patients and 20 employees have requested immediate evacuation.

“WHO reiterates its plea for collective efforts to bring an end to the hostilities and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza,” the health agency said. 

“We call for an immediate ceasefire, the sustained flow of humanitarian assistance at scale, unhindered humanitarian access to all of those in need, the unconditional release of all hostages—many of whom have serious medical needs—and the cessation of attacks on health care and other vital infrastructure.” 

It’s been a month since Hamas’ surprise attack against Israel which resulted in the deaths of 1,200 people and the taking of around 240 hostages who remain in Gaza.

In response, Israel has launched a series of airstrikes and a ground invasion in Gaza, resulting in the deaths of over 13,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

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