Tuesday, February 27

Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza is a ‘death zone,’ WHO says


Al-Shifa hospital is a ‘death zone,’ says World Health Organization

A joint team of United Nations and World Health Organization workers on an “assessment mission” to Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City called the hospital a “death zone” and said the situation is “desperate,” according to a statement released by the WHO Saturday.

The humanitarian team found a mass grave at its entrance, which they were told contained the bodies of 80 people. The hospital, which has been without clean water, fuel, food or medical supplies for the past six weeks, also contained signs of shelling and gunfire, according to the statement.

Some are unable or unwilling to leave Al-Shifa: 291 patients and 25 health workers remain. Damage and lack of key resources at the hospital had caused it to “essentially stop functioning as a medical facility,” the WHO statement said, adding that medical and solid waste piled in the corridors. Many injured patients’ wounds were severely infected due to the absence of sanitation and infection control measures at the hospital, it said.

The statement added that evacuation plans for patients to hospitals in the south are being “urgently developed” by humanitarian organizations, but the ability to carry them out is “pending guarantees of safe passage by parties to the conflict.”

Grief in southern Gaza after more airstrikes

Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

Palestinians mourn as they collect the bodies of those killed in airstrikes today in the city of Khan Younis, in southern Gaza.


U.N. relief chief: People were killed while sheltering at Al-Fakhoura school

People were killed while sheltering at Al-Fakhoura school in northern Gaza, said Martin Griffiths, the United Nations under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator.

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“Shelters are a place for safety. Schools are a place for learning,” Griffiths wrote on X. “Civilians cannot and should not have to bear this any longer. Humanity needs to prevail.”

The bodies of dozens of people who were killed in the attack on the school arrived at Kamal Adwan Hospital in Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza today, said Dr. Ahmed Al-Kahlout, the hospital’s director.

The number of fatalities has not been released.

An official statement from Hamas blamed Israel for the strike and said it would be “held accountable.”

NBC News could not immediately verify the source of the blast.

WHO plans evacuation of patients, workers at Al-Shifa Hospital

The World Health Organization said today that it and its partners are making plans to evacuate the remaining 25 health workers and 291 patients at Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital, where conditions continue to deteriorate.

The hospital is no longer operational and is no longer admitting new patients and has become what a United Nations humanitarian assessment team called a “death zone,” the WHO said.

“Over the next 24–72 hours, pending guarantees of safe passage by parties to the conflict, additional missions are being arranged to urgently transport patients from Al-Shifa to Nasser Medical Complex and European Gaza Hospital in the south of Gaza,” the WHO said. However, the organization stressed that the latter two hospitals are also overwhelmed, and an influx of patients will “further strain overburdened health staff and resources.”

The WHO called for immediate efforts to restore functionality at Al-Shifa and other hospitals to provide urgently needed services in Gaza. “The extreme suffering of the people of Gaza demands that we respond immediately and concretely with humanity and compassion,” the WHO said.

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Hundreds flee on foot from Al-Shifa Hospital

Hundreds fled on foot from Al-Shifa Hospital towards the southern Gaza Strip amid conflicting reports from health officials and the Israeli Defense Forces about who ordered an evacuation. Some rode in horse-drawn carts while others were pushed in wheelchairs.

Dr. Ramez Radwan described seeing bodies in the streets as they walked on the road leading from the hospital through Gaza City.

Israel’s information missteps have led to weakened credibility

Alongside its fight with Hamas, Israel is fighting another battle: to convince the world, and chiefly the United States, that this is a just war.

Israel’s public-relations machine has gone into overdrive in recent weeks to make the case that its pummeling of Gaza has been necessary and conducted in a way meant to minimize civilian deaths. It has allowed journalists, including those from NBC News, to embed with its soldiers in Gaza, maintained a steady drumbeat of social media posts, and made Israeli representatives available for TV appearances.

But in its recent outreach to global allies, Israel has released several pieces of inaccurate or disputed information including claiming that an Arabic calendar was a shift schedule for Hamas kidnappers, and using curtains as evidence that hostage videos had been filmed in a hospital.

The widespread reaction calling out these questionable pieces of evidence has weakened Israel’s credibility, according to some experts, and could lead to a boy-who-cried-wolf situation unless concrete evidence for a Hamas headquarters is found beneath Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital, one of Israel’s key contentions at this stage of the war.

“The irony is they might find something and nobody is going to believe them,” said H.A. Hellyer, a senior associate fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington, D.C., think tank. “At this point their credibility is shot.”

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