Doctors refuse to abandon patients as Israel issues impossible one hour Al Shifa Hospital evacuation order
Five doctors and a handful of nurses have refused to leave the Al Shifa Hospital, following a one hour ultimatum issued by the Israeli military to evacuate. They have stayed behind with 150 patients which they say are unable to be moved - patients in the middle of complex operations, amputees, the critically wounded and vulnerable premature babies. Israeli armed forces have continued to force upwards of 650 patients and wounded to exit the Al Shifa Hospital at gunpoint. Meanwhile news broke of the death of the fourth of 39 premature babies, the latest of which died in the morning of Saturday from lack of oxygen as the evacuation was taking place.
Many of the doctors only finally agreed to leave after receiving reassurance that the premature babies would be cared for and eventually evacuated by professional UN medically trained staff.
Trail of Tears
Dr Munir al-Bursh, Director General of Hospitals in Gaza, speaking to news reporters by phone, described a scene which resembled an exodus of the living dead, as wheelchair bound and semi conscious patients lying helpless on wheeled beds were pushed out of the hospital into the rubble strewn streets, to begin the 3 km ‘trail of tears’ as it has become known, to the nearest medical facility. The nearest facility is the Indonesian hospital facility, the Beit Lahiya Hospital, in the South of Gaza, which itself ran out of essential supplies several days ago. If patients need any form of specialist care they will have to make their way to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, which is at least 7 km away.
Ignoring pleas by hospital doctors for access to ambulances, the armed forces have demanded that patients are nevertheless evacuated. Dr Munir al-Bursh, the Director General for Gaza hospitals in his phone interview further described the heart breaking picture of desperation, as hundreds of patients waving white flags in the hope that they will not become the latest victims of aerial bombardment, poured out of the hospital at gun point, with snipers positioned on the roofs pointing guns on them as they left. As many as 7,000 refugees have been sheltered in the Al Shifa compound and all have now finally joined the exodus to the south of Gaza.
Death Toll reaches 12,000 including 5,000 children and 3,300 women
The shocking detail of the evacuation of the Al Shifa Hospital, comes as the latest death toll according to the Gaza Health Ministry, has risen to over 12,000, which includes 5,000 children and 3,300 women. A further 3,750 Gaza citizens remain unaccounted for, including 1,800 children – assumed buried beneath the rubble.
More than 200 medical personnel, 22 civil defence personnel as well as 51 journalists have been killed during the onslaught.
Mahmood Abbas declares the world is watching as genocide takes place
The Palestinian Authority has accused the Israeli army of "flagrantly" violating international law and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, lambasted Israel’s waging "a war against the existence of the Palestinians" in the Gaza Strip, saying that it was a “barbaric war” and declaring that:
“genocide…is taking place before the eyes of the world.”
While the US continues to support Israel’s offensive against Hamas, the US National Security Spokesperson, John Kirby made clear that the US did not support airstrikes on facilities where innocent people are trying to get care. He said:
‘To be clear, we do not support striking a hospital from the air and we do not want to see a firefight in the hospital where innocent people, helpless people, sick people are simply trying to get the medical care that they deserve, not to be caught in a crossfire. Hospitals and patients must be protected’
Dr. Natalie Thurtle, Deputy Medical Co-ordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Jerusalem, said that many patients have been without access to proper medical care for weeks and there was a good chance that they would not survive any evacuation or be able to make a good recovery.
UN warns that starvation in the Gaza Strip is imminent
The U.N.’s human rights chief, Volker Türk, on Friday, warned that “massive outbreaks of infectious disease, and hunger” are on the horizon in Gaza. Two-thirds of the Gaza Strip’s population of 2.3 million has been made homeless since the war began.
Cindy McCain, Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), warned that food and water supplies have been almost completely exhausted. She said:
‘With winter fast approaching, unsafe and overcrowded shelters, and the lack of clean water, civilians are facing the immediate possibility of starvation’