Israel-Hamas war: Thousands of Palestinians are fleeing northern Gaza as Israel's military pushed deeper into dense urban neighbourhoods in its battle with Hamas militants. Officials in the besieged enclave said the Palestinian death toll has surpassed 11,000 people. The search for safety in Gaza is growing more desperate as combat intensifies. Residents who escaped to the south and Palestinian health officials reported strikes in and around Gaza City's main hospital overnight. Israel said at least one was the result of a misfired Palestinian rocket.
The World Health Organization on Friday said that 20 of Gaza's 36 hospitals are no longer functioning, including a pediatric hospital that stopped operations after a reported Israeli strike in the area. “If there is a hell on earth today, its name is northern Gaza,” the UN humanitarian agency spokesperson, Jens Laerke, told reporters in Geneva.
Millions of Gazans have fled their homes
More than two-thirds of Gaza's population of 2.3 million have fled their homes since the war began. In the south, they're crowded into shelters with dwindling supplies of food and water as the war enters its second month.
Gaza City, the largest urban area in the territory, is the focus of Israel's campaign to crush Hamas following the militant group's deadly Oct. 7 incursion into southern Israel that set off the war.
More than 1,200 people in Israel died, most of them in the Hamas attack, and about 240 hostages were taken from Israel into Gaza by Palestinian militants.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has verified more than 250 attacks on hospitals, clinics, patients and ambulances in Gaza since Hamas' incursion into Israel on October 7 — as well as 25 attacks on health care in Israel.
Firing outside the al-Shifa and Rantisi hospitals: WHO chief
In Gaza, the “health system is on its knees” and the situation on the ground “is impossible to describe,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.
“As we speak, there are reports of firing outside the al-Shifa and Rantisi hospitals,” he said, adding that Palestinian health workers were still saving lives despite being “directly in the firing line.”
Last week saw attacks on five hospitals in one day in Gaza, Ghebreyesus said, and in the past 48 hours, four hospitals with some 430 beds were put out of action. He said half of the Gaza Strip's 36 hospitals and two-thirds of its primary health care centres are not functioning, and facilities that are functioning “are operating way beyond their capacities.”
(With inputs from agency)