Palestinian authorities proposed a Red Cross-supervised evacuation of a hospital beset by fighting in Gaza on Tuesday, as health officials warned that the only way to save three dozen newborns trapped there would be to call a cease-fire and transport them out of the besieged territory.
After days of battles with Palestinian militants, Israeli forces have encircled Shifa Hospital, where hundreds of patients, medical staff and displaced people are trapped with dwindling supplies and without electricity to run incubators and other equipment.
Gaza’s largest hospital has emerged as a symbol of Palestinian suffering in the war between Israel and Hamas that extends far beyond its walls. Only one hospital in the territory’s north is still capable of receiving patients, and about 200,000 Palestinians have streamed out of the area toward worsening conditions in the south in recent days, the U.N. humanitarian office said Tuesday.
The war, now in its sixth week, was triggered by Hamas’ surprise attack into Israel, in which militants killed hundreds of civilians and dragged some 240 hostages back to Gaza. The conflict has killed thousands of Palestinian civilians and wreaked widespread destruction on the impoverished enclave.