Premature babies at Al-Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, are being wrapped in foil and placed next to hot water in a desperate bid to keep them alive in ‘catastrophic’ conditions, the hospital director has warned, as Israeli soldiers battle Hamas militants in surrounding streets and remaining fuel reserves dry up, leaving the hospital unable to function.
No oxygen for babies
According to reports, Hospital staff were fighting to keep the newborns alive and warm after oxygen supplies ran out and they had to move the babies by hand from the neonatal unit’s incubators to a different part of the hospital.
‘There is no more water, food, milk for children and babies… the situation in the hospital is catastrophic,’ the director of the medical center, Dr Muhammad Abu Salmiya, told CNN on Monday.
Present situation at Garza’s largest hospital
The doctor on Sunday told Al Araby TV that several children had died in the intensive care unit and the nursery over the past two days amid Israel’s unrelenting bombardment and blockade of Gaza, an already impoverished and densely packed territory, following the October 7 attack on its territory by Hamas militants.
Dr Medhat Abbas, the director general of Gaza’s health ministry, said medical staff at Al-Shifa kept four infants alive after their mothers died by performing C-sections.
Babies are without mothers and electricity
‘Now they have to make it without their mothers and without electricity… Can you imagine that?’ he said in a voice note.
‘When these babies are born prematurely, to sustain their lives they need to have the same temperature as their mother. This temperature can only be offered in the incubators, which are heated properly,’ Abbas added.
He warned that the situation would only worsen as winter approaches.
A freelance journalist inside Al-Shifa described dozens of bodies yet to be buried, ambulances that were unable to collect the wounded, and life-support systems with no electricity to function.
Medics were working by candlelight, food was being rationed and people inside were starting to drink piped water, the journalist said late Saturday.
Asked about the hospitals in Gaza at an unrelated Oval Office event on Monday, President Joe Biden told reporters, ‘Hospitals must be protected.’
Operating rooms are out of service
Inside the hospital, none of the operating rooms are functioning due to a lack of electricity, Abu Salmiya, director of Al-Shifa told Al Araby TV, adding that ‘whoever needs surgery dies, and we cannot do anything for him.
‘Now the wounded come to us and we cannot give them anything other than first aid,’ he said.
The World Health Organization says Al-Shifa has been without power for three days.
Gaza hospitals in mess
‘Regrettably, the hospital is not functioning as a hospital anymore,’ it said.
The spokesman for the Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza, Dr. Ashraf al-Qidra, said over the weekend that the intensive care unit, pediatric department and oxygen devices were out of service.
Israel has repeatedly claimed there is a Hamas command center underneath Al-Shifa Hospital, which Hamas and hospital officials have denied.
The Israeli military has also previously accused Hamas of hiding itself in civilian infrastructure.
According to CNN, a US official with knowledge of American intelligence said that Hamas has a command node under the Al-Shifa hospital, and uses fuel intended for the hospital to aid its militant activities.