This weekend has seen the most intense fighting in Gaza City which has centered on al-Shifa hospital and its vicinity, which is the Strip’s largest, which has for days been totally surrounded by Israeli forces, and lacking food and water.
The hospital is “totally surrounded and bombardments are going on nearby,” its director, Mohammad Abu Salmiya, announced in a late Saturday statement. Israel has claimed that Hamas uses bunkers beneath the hospital as a command center. However, al-Shifa’s head of surgery, Dr Marwan Abusada, has told regional news sources that civilians are trapped and patients are dying.
“Shooting and bombardment are everywhere you hear it at every second around the al-Shifa Hospital. No one can get out. No one can come in. People who tried evacuate the hospital, they were shot at in the streets. Some got killed, some injured,” he described of the desperate situation. Some Israeli officials and media have alleged that it is in fact Hamas snipers doing the shooting, though without evidence.
Palestinian Minister of Health Mai al-Kaila has at the same time said Israel’s military “are not evacuating people from hospitals; instead they are forcibly evicting the wounded onto the streets, leaving them to face inevitable death.”
This was in response to the IDF announcing it would help facilitate the safe passage of babies and other wounded from the hospital. But the IDF has asserted repeatedly it is Hamas that is using civilians at the hospital as ‘human shields’ and that Hamas also hijacked inbound fuel which was meant for hospital generators.
The Wall Street Journal on Sunday also quoted doctors who presented a scenario of mass suffering and death unfolding:
Doctors described an increasingly desperate situation at hospitals in northern Gaza, including the biggest one, Al-Shifa Hospital, where they said dozens of dead bodies have been left in the open and decomposing and nearly 40 prematurely born babies are without the incubators they need.
“If we do not stop this bloodshed immediately with a ceasefire or at the bare minimum a medical evacuation of patients these hospitals will become a morgue,” Doctors Without Borders, the international healthcare charity, said Sunday.
Competing and contrasting narratives have emerged concerning who is to blame for deaths at Shifa hospital…
The IDF publicly said yesterday it would help evacuate babies from Gaza’s #AlShifa hospital. But the head of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) – told us there is is no such conversation of coordinated action to help evacuate patients. His doctors are at Al Shifa. https://t.co/ITkJKRYXFH
— Margaret Brennan (@margbrennan) November 12, 2023
Israel’s Foreign Ministry has said the compounding misery is being orchestrated by Hamas…
Breaking: Hamas prevented the Shifa Hospital from receiving 300 liters of fuel from the IDF for urgent medical purposes.
📸 (left) A recorded conversation between an IDF officer and a senior official in the health ministry in Gaza who states that the Hamas Health Ministry… pic.twitter.com/dcfXfLxiwu
— Israel Foreign Ministry (@IsraelMFA) November 12, 2023
Meanwhile, also on Sunday fighting along the Israeli-Lebanon border is worsening following the latest wave of Hezbollah rockets, some of which reportedly scored direct hits, leaving significant casualties.
“At least six civilians were wounded, one critically, in an anti-tank guided missile attack by the Hezbollah terror group from Lebanon on Sunday, the military and medics said,” the Times of Israel reports.
Hezbollah has been facing pressure from both its supporters in the region and Palestinian armed factions to ‘do more’ and escalate its attacks on northern Israel.
Before and after: this is how Rashid Street looks like today in Gaza, which is located along the sea in the Strip
— Channel 12 pic.twitter.com/Lwa02ZaIHa
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) November 12, 2023
However, many of the IDF soldiers were reported as only “lightly wounded” and were evaluated at a local hospital. There are reports that Israel’s military is preparing more devastating retaliatory attacks on southern Lebanon.