Gaza’s war dead go uncounted as Israel pushes into the city center
As Israeli forces push into the heart of Gaza City to continue their mission to destroy the Hamas militant movement, civilians are gaining the upper hand, and the hospitals that once provided succor a ‘ shutdown as communication breaks down and fuel for generators runs out.
Why are news outlets and the UN dependent on the Gaza Ministry of Health for death tolls
Gaza’s hospitals have been caught in the crossfire of the fighting, with Shifa emerging as a focal point. Israel claims that Hamas is using hospitals – including Shifa – to hide its bases, while the injured and displaced remain on the land working like human wings. Hamas accuses Israel of targeting health facilities to cut off a lifeline for residents.
The breakdown of Gaza’s infrastructure also means that information about what is happening and the numbers of those affected is scarce.
“There is basically no ministry to issue a number,” said Medhat Abbas, one of the directors of the Ministry of Health. He said he was unable to speak to his colleagues, many of them in Shifa. “The bodies are on the street, so we can’t say any number right now,” he said. “The explosion is going on. “
A lack of fuel, in hospitals both in the north and in the south, has led to a breakdown in communication and the inability to register the dead. Damage from the fighting has also severely damaged the mobile network.
The ministry stopped updating its count on Friday at 11,078 but estimates that thousands more have died since then. There have been strikes in the Jabalya refugee camp and in Khan Younis since the count stopped.
Israel launched its operation in Gaza in response to the Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7, when more than 1,200 people in Israel were killed and at least 240 hostages were taken.
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday that the Biden administration was “in active discussion as we are currently talking with counterparts in the region” about a possible deal for some release Israeli and foreign hostages. Brett McGurk, the NSC’s coordinator for Middle East affairs, was traveling to the region to continue talks between the United States, Israel and Qatar, which is mediating with Hamas, Kirby said.
Amid the deepening push into Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces announced that they had taken over the construction of the legislature and other government facilities, a police headquarters and an engineering faculty that they said were weapons-grade.
Basem Naim, a Hamas official, told the Washington Post that the government headquarters were destroyed by Israeli bombing and that the police headquarters were empty. “This is an attempt to create a fake victory,” he said. The legislative council had been “destroyed more than once before, and there are no forces in it even if they entered in it.”
Since Friday, ambulances have not been allowed to reach Shifa hospital, which now hosts around 10,000 patients, staff and displaced people. The spokesman of the Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qudra said that the director of the hospital and Israeli officials are communicating about evacuation but they have not reached a resolution.
“We are trapped inside the buildings. We cannot step out,” Qudra said on Tuesday in a rare phone call from Shifa. “There is nothing available inside the hospital – water, food or medical supplies. That is why we are losing patients .”
He said three babies, born prematurely, died as a direct result of lack of electricity and basic needs such as water; Another 37 people have died since Friday, he said.
By Tuesday, Shifa’s lightless nursery had been completely empty: Al Jazeera showed a room full of empty incubators. In an operating room that still had some power, the 34 remaining babies were placed side by side on three beds atop teal blankets, their little limbs touching as they sobbed gently. Four were born to dead mothers, Al Jazeera reported.
The Post was unable to independently verify the accounts and photos.
“We have no objection to evacuating the patients,” said Qudra, “but we need a safe route. There is still no room to house 650 patients. “
Nowhere in northern Gaza is safe to move to: The UN Development Program said on Tuesday it had received reports that its building in Gaza City had been hit by a shell fired by a tank, but no they reported no casualties. The hit was the “second such incident in two days,” the agency said, after it fired separate shells against the compound on Saturday. Israel did not immediately respond to questions about the attack.
The United Nations estimates that hundreds of thousands are still in the north, unable or unwilling to leave. The World Food Program has expressed concern about malnutrition and hunger. Medical staff have raised these concerns for weeks.
The United States has recently increased pressure on Israel to address the real humanitarian impact of the attack on Gaza. The operation has sparked protests around the world calling for a ceasefire.
President Biden, speaking at an Oval Office press conference on Monday, said he was in contact with Israel about the safety of Gaza hospitals. “My hope and expectation is that there will be less frustrating activities around them, he said.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, speaking to Israeli journalists on Monday, believed that the army had another two or three weeks to complete its mission before international pressure would lead to a ceasefire.
Israel last week agreed to daily pauses to allow civilians to evacuate along routes it has decided on. But medical workers and humanitarian groups have said that evacuation is not possible because of the fighting around hospitals.
Human Rights Watch said Israel’s repeated attacks on medical facilities, personnel and transport “should be investigated as war crimes.” In a report on Tuesday, based in New York the group said concerns about “disproportionate attacks are heightened for hospitals.” Even the threat of an attack or minor damage can have a major life-or-death impact on patients and caregivers. “
Since the ceasefires, around 200,000 more people have fled fighting in northern Gaza to the south through a corridor opened by the Israeli military, the UN humanitarian office said on Tuesday.
Conditions in the south, of course, are far from safe: bombing has continued, hospital generators there have also stopped working and drinking water is scarce.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said on Monday that it expects its humanitarian operations to stop within 48 hours, when they have exhausted their fuel reserves. The two main water distribution contractors shut down on Monday, cutting off 200,000 people from getting drinking water.
Palestine Red Crescent Society name that the power generator at its affiliated al-Amal hospital in Khan Younis in the south had gone offline, threatening the lives of 90 patients receiving treatment and the 9,000 displaced people who had taken shelter in the building
Intermittent violence continued in the West Bank, with clashes in the town of Tulkarm. At least seven Palestinians there were killed, Reuters reported.
The IDF said it was carrying out “counter-terrorist operations” there and “several of the attackers were killed”. Palestine Red Crescent Society fall that an ambulance was “surrounded, searched, and an injured person inside was detained” by Israeli forces near the camp.
Balousha reported from Amman, Jordan, and Berger from Jerusalem.
Gaza’s largest hospital, al-Shifa, is “not functioning” after days without power, water or reliable internet, the World Health Organization said. Understand what is behind the Israel-Gaza war.
Hosts: Officials say Hamas terrorists kidnapped about 239 hostages in a coordinated attack. Four hostages have been released – two Americans and two Israelis – while families are holding out hope. One Israeli hostage who was released reported on the “spider web” of the Gaza tunnels she was in.
Humanitarian aid: The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said it has received more than 370 trucks with food, medicine and water in the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing in Egypt. However, the PRCS said, there has not yet been permission to import fuel to power hospitals, water pumps, taxis and more.
Conflict between Israel and Palestine: The Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has a complicated history, and its rulers have been at odds with the Palestinian Authority, the US-backed government in the United States. West Bank. Here is a timeline of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.