A spokesman for the Ministry of Health said that at least 24 people died in the largest hospital in Gaza due to a power outage.
More than 20 patients died at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza over the past two days as Israeli forces continued to raid the hospital, according to a hospital official and the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza.
The Ministry of Health said on Friday that 24 patients died during the past 48 hours due to a power outage in the hospital, which has been out of service since Saturday amid a fuel shortage.
Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said on Friday that 24 patients in different departments died during the past 48 hours because vital medical equipment stopped working due to a power outage.
Muhammad Abu Salmiya, director of Al-Shifa Hospital, told Al Jazeera that 22 patients died overnight.
The health facility became the focus of the Israeli ground offensive in northern Gaza, as special forces combed the facility since Wednesday, amid growing international concern about the fate of hundreds of patients and thousands of civilians seeking shelter there.
Israel claimed that Hamas fighters were using a tunnel complex beneath the hospital to launch attacks. Hamas and hospital officials have repeatedly denied these accusations.
Israel said that its forces found a vehicle containing a large number of weapons and an underground building, which it called the “Hamas Tunnel,” two days after searching the building.
The army also said that the bodies of the two hostages were found in buildings near the hospital grounds, but not inside it.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said the raid destroyed medical services at the hospital, where the United Nations estimates that 2,300 patients, staff and displaced Palestinians were taking shelter before Israeli forces entered.
Workers at Al-Shifa Hospital said that a premature baby died in the hospital on Friday, the first baby to die there within two days since the entry of Israeli forces.
Three people had died in the previous days while Israeli forces were surrounding the hospital.
Muhammad Abu Salamiya, director of Al-Shifa Hospital, told Al Jazeera that the medical complex has become a “big prison” and a “mass grave” for everyone inside.
“We have nothing left – no electricity, no food, no water. With every passing minute, we lose a life. Overnight, we lost 22 people, [and] “For the past three days, the hospital has remained under siege,” Al-Salmiya said.
Severe fuel shortage
Israel imposed a strict blockade and launched a military offensive on Gaza last month after Hamas carried out an attack on southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking about 240 others hostage, according to Israeli officials.
The Israeli air and ground attack killed more than 12,000 people, including 5,000 children, according to the Palestinian authorities in Gaza.
Now in its seventh week, the Israeli blockade has severely restricted food, water, electricity and fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million residents, with aid agencies warning of a humanitarian crisis in the Strip.
Israel said it had agreed to a US request to allow two fuel trucks a day into Gaza, following a UN warning that supply shortages had halted aid deliveries and put people at risk of starvation. This amount represents about half of what the United Nations said it needed to carry out life-saving missions for hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza, including fueling water networks, hospitals, bakeries and its trucks delivering aid.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said earlier that its aid trucks were unable to enter Gaza from Egypt for the second day in a row on Friday due to a fuel shortage and an almost complete communications outage that began on Thursday.
UNRWA said it would not be able to “manage or coordinate humanitarian convoys” due to the communications breakdown.
Near complete collapse
Hamas said that more than half of Gaza’s hospitals were no longer operating due to fighting, damage, or shortages, and the Israeli raid on Al-Shifa Hospital left severe damage to the radiology, burns, and dialysis units.
The United Nations warned that the conditions of Palestinian civilians are rapidly deteriorating.
World Food Program head Cindy McCain said that more than 1.5 million people have been internally displaced, and the blockade imposed by Israel on the region means that “civilians face the immediate possibility of starvation.”
UNRWA said that 70% of the population does not have access to clean water in southern Gaza, where sewage has begun flowing into the streets.
UNRWA Director-General Philippe Lazzarini described the children who took refuge in a UN school as “begging for a sip of water or a loaf of bread.”
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