Middle East

Gaza’s largest functioning hospital ‘completely out of service’, say health officials

Fighting, fuel shortages and Israeli raids have put Gaza’s largest still functioning hospital completely out of service, local and UN health officials have said, as Israel continued its threats to invade the southern city of Rafah if remaining Israeli hostages are not freed in the next three weeks.

Nasser hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis went out of action early on Sunday, Gaza health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said.

The hospital was still sheltering scores of patients suffering from war wounds and from the worsening health crisis in Gaza, but there was no power and not enough staff to treat them all, health officials said.

Qidra said water supply to the hospital had halted because generators had been out of action for three days, sewage was flooding emergency rooms and the remaining staff had no way of treating intensive care patients.

A lack of oxygen supplies – also a result of having no power – had caused the deaths of at least seven patients, he said.

“It’s gone completely out of service. There are only four medical teams – 25 staff – currently caring for patients inside the facility,” he said.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, said in a tweet on X on Sunday that Nasser hospital was “not functional anymore”.

He said a WHO team had not been allowed to enter the medical complex on Friday or Saturday to deliver fuel for generators.

About 200 patients remained trapped in the hospital without food and water, including 20 who needed urgent referrals, Tedros added.

Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz meanwhile threatened that Israel would launch a ground invasion of Rafah if the remaining Israeli hostages held by Hamas were not freed by the start of Ramadan in three weeks’ time.

More than half the enclave’s 2.3 million Palestinians have sought refuge in the southern city, after having obeyed Israeli evacuation orders earlier in the war.

“If by Ramadan our hostages are not home, the fighting will continue to the Rafah area,” Gantz told a conference of Jewish American leaders. Ramadan, expected to begin on 10 March, is historically a tense time in the region.

Israel’s government has not publicly discussed a timeline for the ground offensive. Gantz, a retired general and one of the war cabinet’s three members, represents an influential voice but not the final word on what might lie ahead.

Gaza’s hospitals have been a focal point of the four-month-old war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas. Israel’s air and ground offensive has devastated much of Gaza and forced nearly all its inhabitants from their homes. Palestinian health authorities say 28,985 people, mostly civilians, have been killed.

Israeli ground forces launched a raid on Nasser hospital on Thursday. The military claimed in a statement that hundreds of militants were hiding in the hospital and some had posed as medical staff. It released images of weapons it said were found along with medications that were transferred from Israel and intended for the more than 100 hostages abducted from Israel and being held by Hamas.

“The packages of medicine that were found were sealed and had not been transferred to the hostages,” the military said.

Hamas dismisses Israeli allegations, saying they serve as a pretext to destroy the healthcare system.

On Sunday, the IDF said it had arrested more than 100 suspected Hamas militants in the hospital compound. Gaza’s health ministry said 70 medical personnel were among those detained, as well as patients in hospital beds.

The military claimed the raid occurred “without harming patients and medical staff, and in accordance with the values of the IDF and international law”.

Most of Gaza’s hospitals have been put out of action by fighting and lack of fuel, leaving a population of 2.3 million without proper healthcare. Many in the international community have said hospitals must be protected in line with international law.

The latest blow to Gaza’s destroyed healthcare sector came as Israel prepared for an assault of the southernmost city Rafah, home now to more than a million mostly displaced Palestinians living in desperate conditions.


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