As the Israel Defense Forces attack two major hospitals in Gaza, patients and staff are facing imminent danger of dying, prompting more calls for a cease-fire, including from the European Union, according to multiple reports.
Al-Shifa, the Gaza Strip’s largest hospital, is without electricity and lacks vital resources as the Israel Defense Forces continues to bombard the facility. The Israeli government says Hamas militants built a command complex under the hospital. Hamas and hospital officials have denied militants are hiding under the facility.
So far, at least three babies and 10 others inside the hospital have died since the siege started on Saturday morning, NBC News reported, citing the Palestinian Health Ministry. Another 36 premature infants are in danger of “death at any moment.”
Al-Quds Hospital, the second major hospital in Gaza, is also besieged and has “ceased operations,” Al Jazeera reported.
“These hostilities are severely impacting hospitals and taking a horrific toll on civilians and medical staff,” the EU statement said, adding that the Israel Defense Forces should “exercise maximum restraint” to refrain from killing more civilians.
The siege adds to an ongoing Israel Defense Forces effort in the Gaza Strip, which peace activists and countries like South Africa have likened to genocide and ethnic cleansing. It has led to more than 11,100 Palestinian deaths and the displacement of 1.6 million Palestinian people since the beginning of the war, according to Gaza officials. The war began Oct. 7, when Hamas militants attacked and killed an estimated 1,200 people in Israel.
Israeli forces have repeatedly struck hospitals in the Gaza Strip in the time since, even though hospitals have special status under the Geneva Convention. The United Nations called on Israel’s military to stop attacking the hospitals.
“The right to seek medical assistance, especially in times of crisis, should never be denied,” the UN said in its statement. “Unimpeded, safe and sustained access is needed now to provide fuel, medical supplies and water for these lifesaving services. The violence must end now.”
In a Sunday post on X, formerly known as Twitter, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “the situation is dire and perilous.”
“The hospital is not functioning as a hospital anymore,” Ghebreyesus added, also calling for a cease-fire.
Doctors Without Borders, a global humanitarian aid organization also known as Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF, told HuffPost that it has staff inside Al-Shifa hospital that officials have not been able to reach since Saturday.
“We are worried for their lives,” the MSF official said, also calling for a cease-fire.
One MSF staff member at the scene described the situation as “too dangerous” in the statement. “There are dead people on the streets. We see people being shot at. We can see injured people. We hear them crying for help, but we cannot do anything. It is too dangerous to go outside.”
A head surgeon at the Al-Shifa hospital made similar claims to Al Jazeera, adding that there is constant shooting and bombardment.
“We don’t have electricity, we don’t have water, we don’t even have food. We have a lot of dead people and we would like to bury their bodies. But it is sad to say it is too dangerous. We tried to make a large grave, but the Israelis attacked us,” Dr. Marwan Abusada said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that they would evacuate infants from a Gaza hospital they are seizing, but the Palestinian Minister of Health, Mai al-Kaila, refuted the claim to Palestinian news agency WAFA, according to NBC News.
“[They] are not evacuating people from hospitals; instead they are forcibly evicting the wounded onto the streets, leaving them to face inevitable death,” the Health Minister said.
Netanyahu on Sunday regarded the thousands of civilian deaths in Gaza as “collateral damage.”
The United States government, which has voiced support for Israel, has even condemned the hospital attacks and claims to have discussed them with Israeli forces.
“The United States does not want to see firefights in hospitals, where innocent people, patients receiving medical care, are caught in the crossfire,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CBS “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan on Sunday. “And we’ve had active consultations with Israeli defense forces on this.”
This article has been updated with further detail on the war and on Israel’s allegations about Hamas forces under hospitals.