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111 medical buildings hit, 60 ambulances targeted by Zionists since Oct 7

GAZA: For tens of thousands of families in Gaza, hospitals became a refuge from seemingly endless Zionist shelling. Then came the strike Tuesday night on Ahli Arab hospital in central Gaza, which the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory said killed at least 471 people and over 300 wounded, some in critical condition.

The ministry, which blamed the Zionists for the strike, said Ahli Arab was sheltering not only hundreds of sick and wounded, but also people “forcibly displaced from their homes” because of other strikes. The Zionist army said a rocket misfired by Islamic Jihad Palestinian militants caused the strike. Gaza residents, who have been told to flee the north of the Palestinian territory, had packed the courtyards and corridors of the territory’s overwhelmed hospitals in the belief they were a safe haven from the Zionist bombardments that followed the Oct 7 attacks by Hamas on south occupied Palestine. Gazans combed through the debris of the devastated hospital, collecting the bodies of the dead in the battered enclave Wednesday, hours after the strike. Alongside rows of charred vehicles, volunteers recovered corpses and human limbs that were placed in body bags, while the remains of others were covered in white shrouds and blankets.

“This is a massacre,” Ahmed Tafesh, who assisted in the recovery effort, told AFP, saying he had collected the eyes, arms, legs and heads of the deceased. “I have never seen anything like this in my life.” At the nearby Shifa hospital in Gaza City, residents gathered to identify the dead at the hospital’s mortuary and take other bodies for burial. Yahya Karim, 70, was among those searching for clues about the fate of their relatives.

“I don’t know how many of them died and how many are still alive,” said Karim, admitting that he had planned to shelter in the hospital before the strike. Outside the Ahli hospital, others who survived the attack who spoke to AFP recounted the terrifying moment when the strike occurred. “We felt there was fire and things were falling on us. We started looking for each other. The electricity cut suddenly, and we couldn’t see,” said Fatima Saed through tears. “I don’t know how we came out of it.”

Gaza resident Adnan al-Naqa told AFP that around 2,000 people were taking refuge at the hospital on Tuesday night at the time of the strike. “As I entered the hospital, I heard the explosion, I saw a massive fire,” said Naqa. “The entire square was on fire, there were bodies everywhere, children, women and elderly people.”

A woman reacts while holding a pillow as she stands amidst debris outside the site of the Ahli Arab hospital on Oct 18, 2023.
A woman reacts while holding a pillow as she stands amidst debris outside the site of the Ahli Arab hospital on Oct 18, 2023.

‘No one has pity’

At Nasser hospital, before the Ahli Arab strike, women made bread and spread out clothes to dry in the courtyard of the facility in the southern district of Khan Yunis, as a stream of ambulances brought casualties and surgeons desperately sought to save lives inside. Makeshift mattresses cover the ground and each night the homeless and displaced try to sleep amid the roar of air attacks and the growing cold.

Ibrahim Teyssir is one of thousands to seek refuge around the Dar al-Shifa hospital, the biggest in Gaza and the heart of the medical system for the 2.4 million population. “No one has pity on us,” said Teyssir. “What have we done to deserve this? What have our children done? “Most people are not part of any armed group.” Hospitals are at a “breaking point and are overflowing and with people desperately seeking a safe shelter,” the World Health Organization said. “Crowding is getting worse. Over 30,000 people are sheltering at Shifa Hospital alone,” the UN agency told AFP, quoting Hamas health ministry figures. “We are extremely concerned about disease outbreaks due to mass displacement and poor water and sanitation among people who are already in a dire situation.”

Safe haven

The hospitals were attractive because they had been relatively spared from the Zionist bombing raids that have hit Gaza every day since the October 7 attacks in which 1,400 people died in southern occupied Palestine. But the WHO says that 51 medical buildings have been hit, 12 medical workers have been killed and 60 ambulances targeted.

About 3,000 people have died in Zionist raids since the since the Hamas attacks, according to the Gaza authorities. About one million people from northern Gaza have moved to Khan Yunis and other southern districts to avoid the looming Zionist ground offensive.

About 100,000 people are left in the northern district around Gaza City that the Zionist occupation says is a Hamas stronghold and has warned will be the target of its assault. Conditions across the tiny territory are worsening every day for the 2.4 million population, according to aid agencies. UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, has said that unless water and fuel are sent “immediately”, Gaza inhabitants are in “imminent danger” of epidemics and death. — AFP

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