Medic says Gaza hospital under Israeli siege for fifth day

WHO chief says 140 staff, patients and accompanying adults were inside Al Awda hospital when troops stormed it


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A view of damage to the facade of Al Awda Hospital in Gaza. — Photo: Reuters file
A view of damage to the facade of Al Awda Hospital in Gaza. — Photo: Reuters file

Published: Thu 23 May 2024, 6:31 PM

A senior official at Al Awda hospital in northern Gaza said it was under Israeli military siege for a fifth straight day on Thursday, after soldiers stormed it the previous day.

"We are still under siege for the fifth day in a row," the hospital's acting director, Dr Mohammad Saleh, told AFP.

"Soldiers are present in the hospital's courtyard and in nearby houses," he said, adding that there was "continuous gunfire and shelling" towards it.

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Troops stormed the hospital building on Wednesday evening, he said.

"The hospital was stormed and staff were forced to leave. At the moment I have only 13 staff, 11 patients and two women accompanying wounded children," Saleh said.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on social media platform X that 140 staff, patients and accompanying adults were inside the hospital when troops stormed it.

The WHO visited Al Awda regularly in April to deliver medical supplies and fuel, but on Tuesday Ghebreyesus said snipers were targeting the building and artillery had hit the fifth floor.

On Tuesday, patients and staff were also evacuated from another hospital in northern Gaza, Kamal Adwan, its director, Dr Hossam Abu Safia, told AFP at the time.

"These are the only two functional hospitals remaining in northern Gaza. Ensuring their ability to deliver health services is imperative," Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.

Israeli troops have previously raided other medical facilities in Gaza, including Al Shifa in Gaza City, the territory's largest hospital, which was reduced to rubble after an operation in March, the WHO said.

The Israeli military accuses Hamas of using hospitals to plan and launch attacks against its forces, a charge the militant group denies.

Gaza has been gripped by war since Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7 that killed more than 1,170 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,800 people in Gaza, most of them civilians, according to the Hamas-run Palestinian territory's health ministry.


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