Israeli forces lay siege to yet another Gaza hospital as WHO issues urgent appeal

Gaza City, Gaza - A senior official at Al-Awda hospital in northern Gaza said it was under Israeli siege for a fifth straight day Thursday, after soldiers stormed it the previous day.

Gaza's Al-Awda hospital is being besieged by Israeli forces, who stormed the facility and forced medical staff to leave.
Gaza's Al-Awda hospital is being besieged by Israeli forces, who stormed the facility and forced medical staff to leave.  © AFP

"We are still under siege for the fifth day in a row," the hospital's acting director, Dr. Mohammad Saleh, told AFP.

"Soldiers are present in the hospital's courtyard and in nearby houses," he said, adding that there was "continuous gunfire and shelling" towards it.

Troops stormed the hospital building on Wednesday evening, he said.

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"The hospital was stormed and staff were forced to leave. At the moment I have only 13 staff, 11 patients and two women accompanying wounded children," Saleh said.

WHO chief expresses alarm

Israel has bombarded the entire territory of Gaza without pause since the October 7 Hamas attack, killing over 35,000 Palestinians.
Israel has bombarded the entire territory of Gaza without pause since the October 7 Hamas attack, killing over 35,000 Palestinians.  © REUTERS

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued an urgent appeal, saying on X that 140 staff, patients and accompanying adults were inside the hospital when troops stormed it.

The WHO visited Al-Awda regularly in April to deliver medical supplies and fuel, but on Tuesday Ghebreyesus said snipers were targeting the building and artillery had hit the fifth floor.

On Tuesday, patients and staff were also evacuated from another hospital in northern Gaza, Kamal Adwan, its director, Dr. Hossam Abu Safia, told AFP at the time.

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"These are the only two functional hospitals remaining in northern Gaza. Ensuring their ability to deliver health services is imperative," Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.

Israeli troops have previously assaulted other medical facilities in Gaza, including Al-Shifa in Gaza City, the territory's largest hospital, which was reduced to rubble in March. Mass graves were later discovered on its grounds.

Targeting hospitals is generally considered a war crime under international law, and while Israel has repeatedly claimed that Hamas uses medical facilities as "command and control" centers, it has offered no convincing proof seven months into a war that has killed over 35,000 Palestinians.

Cover photo: AFP

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