Israeli forces raid Gaza’s Kamal Adwan Hospital after days of strikes

Dozens of patients and about 3,000 displaced people are inside, UN says, as Gaza Health Ministry calls for international help.

Dead Palestinian bodies are brought to the Kamal Adwan hospital
Bodies of Palestinians killed in an Israeli air strike are brought to the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Gaza on December 1, 2023 [File: Fadi Alwhidi/Anadolu via Getty Images]
Correction19 Dec 2023
A previous version of this story erroneously quoted MSF's Leo Cans speaking about the situation at Kamal Awdan Hospital. Cans was speaking about al-Awda Hospital. This correction has been reflected in the story.

Israeli forces have raided the Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza, after besieging and shelling it for several days, sources and the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

Ashraf al-Qudra, a ministry spokesman, said Israeli troops were rounding up men and boys in the courtyard of the hospital in Beit Lahiya, including medical staff, on Tuesday.

“We fear their arrest and the arrest of the medical teams or their killing,” he said, calling for international intervention.

“We call on the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the International Committee of the Red Cross to act immediately to save the lives of those in the hospital.”

Inside, there are patients, medical staff and thousands of civilians who have taken refuge after being forced to flee their homes.

Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud, reporting from southern Gaza on Tuesday, said the raid was taking place “under heavy gunfire and artillery shelling”.

“Tanks pushed deeper at the gates and the entire facility is under heavy bombardment,” he said. “Loudspeakers are being used to call anyone aged above 15 to come out of the building with their hands in the air.”

He added that Israeli forces who raided the facility also asked security guards protecting the hospital to hand over their weapons.

Kamal Adwan is the only remaining health facility within the northern part of Gaza, our correspondent said. “Over the last few days, it came under heavy bombardment and air strikes and tank shelling destroying the vast majority of its facilities, and all the major roads leading to it.”

Hospital ‘surrounded’

The United Nations humanitarian agency OCHA said two mothers were killed when the maternity department of Kamal Adwan was hit on Monday.

“The hospital remains surrounded by Israeli troops and tanks,” OCHA said, adding that the hospital was currently accommodating 65 patients, including 12 children in the intensive care unit and six newborns in incubators.

“About 3,000 internally displaced persons remain trapped in the facility and are awaiting evacuation with extreme shortages of water, food and power reported,” it added.

Israeli troops have previously raided and evacuated other medical facilities in Gaza, including the Indonesian Hospital and al-Shifa, the territory’s largest hospital.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says only 11 out of 36 of Gaza’s hospitals remain partially functional and pleaded for them to remain intact.

Leo Cans, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) head of mission for Palestine, told Al Jazeera the situation in al-Awda Hospital is catastrophic.

“We are operating on the floor. Children are arriving with very bad injuries, and [surgeons] have to do multiple operations but there are no more beds,” he said.

“We are outraged by what’s going on,” he continued, adding that medics in Gaza were operating in conditions comparable to World War I.

Meanwhile, Rik Peeperkorn, WHO representative for the occupied Palestinian territories, told a UN press briefing by videolink from Gaza, “We cannot afford to lose any healthcare facilities or hospitals,”

He added: “We hope, we plea that this will not happen.”

More than 18,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began its war on Gaza on October 7.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies