News   /   Palestine

WHO team describes Gaza's al-Shifa Hospital as 'death zone'

A humanitarian assessment team led by the World Health Organization (WHO) visits al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza in this handout image released on November 18, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said al-Shifa Hospital has become a "death zone" after a humanitarian assessment team visited Gaza's largest hospital and saw signs of shelling and gunfire.  

The UN health agency said in a statement on Sunday that the WHO-led team, which included public health experts, logistics officers and security staff from various UN departments, visited al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza a day earlier. 

The team saw a mass grave at the entrance of the hospital and was told more than 80 people were buried there, the WHO statement said.

"Signs of shelling and gunfire were evident. The team saw a mass grave at the entrance of the hospital and were told more than 80 people were buried there," the statement read.

The WHO said the situation was "desperate," with the hospital basically not functioning as a medical facility due to scarcity of clean water, fuel, medicine and other essentials.

The hallways and hospital grounds were filled with medical and solid waste, and patients and health staff expressed fear for their health and safety, it said.

There were 25 health workers and 291 patients, including 32 babies in critical condition, remaining in al Shifa, the UN agency said.

"WHO and partners are urgently developing plans for the immediate evacuation of the remaining patients, staff and their families," it said.

"Over the next 24–72 hours, pending guarantees of safe passage by parties to the conflict, additional missions are being arranged to urgently transport patients" to other hospitals in the south of Gaza.

The remaining 2,500 internally displaced people who had sought refuge on al-Shifa grounds were gone after the Israeli regime forces issued evacuation orders on Saturday, WHO said.

The visit occurred in an active conflict zone, with heavy fighting close to the hospital, it said. WHO repeated its call for an immediate ceasefire and sustained humanitarian assistance, saying options for medical care in the besieged coastal enclave were dwindling.

The assessment came after a visit by WHO and other UN officials to the hospital, which Israeli troops raided earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Jordan’s King Abdullah said on Sunday the international community should push for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to stop a humanitarian catastrophe caused by what he termed Israel’s “ugly war against civilians.”

 European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Sunday the UN Security Council resolution on humanitarian pauses in Gaza must be implemented.

“The decisions of the Security Council are not just words... They have to be implemented,” Borrel said at a joint press conference with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani in Doha.

The developments come as No end in sight to the Israeli bloodshed in Gaza as more Palestinians are killed in relentless strikes on the besieged territory.

Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza is entering its 44th day, and there seems to be no end in sight to the painful tragedies there. One of the latest Israeli attacks has hit 2 schools, killing scores of people.

The regime targeted the UN-run al-Fakhoora School, located in Jabalia refugee camp, and another school in northern Gaza.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman strongly condemned the attacks. Naser Kan’ani urged the international community and Islamic countries to act against the regime’s crimes.

Israel has ordered Palestinians to move from north Gaza for so-called safety, but deadly air strikes continue to hit central and southern areas of the strip.

At least 80 Palestinians were also killed in the regime’s air strikes on residential blocks in the south of the strip.

 According to the Gaza Health Ministry, the death toll stands at over 12,300. Women and children make up the majority of the victims.

The military wing of the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, says it has killed several Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip.

The al-Qassam Brigades says its fighters targeted Israeli forces with anti-personnel rockets in a village south of Gaza City. At least six of the regime’s troops were killed.

The regime’s army says it has lost 60 soldiers since launching a ground invasion in Gaza. However, resistance groups say Israel is concealing the real number of its casualties.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku