Gaza: WHO Assessment Team Visits Al-Shifa Hospital, Describes it as ‘Death Zone’

Geneva: A humanitarian assessment team visited Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza and saw signs of the Israeli shelling and gunfire in what was described as a “death zone,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said today.

The WHO-led team, which included public health experts, logistics officers and security staff from various UN departments, was able to spend only an hour inside the hospital on Saturday due to security concerns, WHO said in a statement.

The team described the hospital as a “death zone” and said the situation was “desperate,” with the hospital basically not functioning as a medical facility due to scarcity of clean water, fuel, medicine and other essentials.

“Signs of shelling and gunfire were evident. The team saw a mass grave at the entrance of the hospital and were told more than 80 people were buried there,” the WHO statement said.

The hallways and hospital grounds were filled with medical and solid waste, and patients and health staff expressed fear for their health and safety, it said. There were 25 health workers and 291 patients, including 32 babies in critical condition, remaining in Al-Shifa, WHO said.

“WHO and partners are urgently developing plans for the immediate evacuation of the remaining patients, staff and their families,” it 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” to other hospitals in the south of Gaza.

The remaining 2,500 internally displaced people who had sought refuge on Al Shifa grounds were gone after the Israeli occupation forces issued evacuation orders on Saturday, WHO said.

WHO repeated its call for an immediate ceasefire and sustained humanitarian assistance, saying options for medical care in the small coastal enclave were dwindling.

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