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Crisis unfolds at Al-Shifa Hospital amid the ongoing Gaza conflict

The situation at Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest medical facility, has intensified as Israeli troops surrounded the hospital, leaving hundreds of patients trapped and thousands seeking shelter. The hospital, located in Gaza City, has become a focal point in the territory's deadliest conflict, which began five weeks ago.

Israel's relentless bombing campaign in response to Hamas' incursion into its southern borders has resulted in a reported increase in the death toll mounting to at least 11,180 people in Gaza, including 4,609 children, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

International human rights organisations describe Israel's actions as "collective punishment," constituting a potential war crime under international law.

Witnesses reported "violent fighting" at the hospital, with small arms fire and aerial bombardments echoing across the complex. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and other UN agencies expressed concern, stating that around 3,000 patients and staff are sheltering inside without adequate fuel, water, or food.

The dire situation inside Al-Shifa has led to the deaths of patients, including two incubated babies in the neonatal unit and a man relying on a ventilator. WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasised that the hospital is "no longer functioning" after three days without electricity, water, or essential supplies.

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Israel claims that Hamas militants are hiding inside Al-Shifa, with President Isaac Herzog describing it as Hamas's operational "headquarters." However, the Israeli government denies directly targeting the hospital.

The crisis extends beyond Al-Shifa, with 20 of Gaza's 36 hospitals reportedly "no longer functioning," according to the UN's humanitarian agency. Major hospitals in north Gaza remain cut off, hindering medical care for patients in the war-torn region.

Transportation efforts are impeded, and the humanitarian situation worsens. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, the Al-Quds hospital in Gaza City is now closed owing to a lack of generator fuel.

As the conflict persists, concerns grow about the rising death toll, inadequate medical care, and the spread of disease among evacuees. International aid organisations report that transporting aid to Gaza is difficult, increasing the humanitarian crisis.

The situation remains fluid, with ongoing clashes and increased fighting reported in various areas. The international community continues to call for an immediate ceasefire to address the escalating crisis in Gaza.

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