Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical facility in the region, has been described as a “death zone” by a joint United Nations (U.N.) humanitarian assessment team led by the World Health Organization (WHO). The team was allowed into the hospital by Israel to investigate claims that it was being used as a base for the militant group Hamas.
Last week, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced that its forces were conducting an operation inside al-Shifa Hospital. Israel released a video showing what appeared to be weapons and military capabilities inside the hospital, alleging that Hamas was operating from within its walls.
In response, the WHO sent a joint team with the U.N. to the hospital on Saturday. Their mission was to assess the situation on the ground, analyze the urgent medical needs, and establish logistical options for future missions. However, their one-hour visit revealed a concerning situation.
The U.N.-WHO team described the hospital as a “death zone” and the overall situation as “desperate.” They witnessed a mass grave at the hospital, containing the bodies of over 80 people.
According to a press release from WHO, al-Shifa Hospital has been severely impacted by the lack of clean water, fuel, medicines, food, and other essential aid in the past six weeks. Once known as the most advanced and well-equipped referral hospital in Gaza, it has essentially ceased functioning as a medical facility. The team also noted that the security situation has made it impossible for the staff to effectively manage hospital waste.
The WHO further revealed that there are currently 24 health workers and 291 patients at the hospital. Among them are 32 critically ill babies, two intensive care patients without ventilation, and 22 dialysis patients whose treatment has been severely compromised. The hospital is no longer operational, and there have been several patient deaths in the past few days.
The dire conditions at al-Shifa Hospital underscore the urgent need for immediate humanitarian aid and support. The situation highlights the devastating impact of the ongoing conflict on Gaza’s healthcare infrastructure and the vulnerable population it serves.