GAZA CITY: A state of extreme panic and chaos at Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital as Israeli forces ordered the immediate evacuation of the medical facility, which had been under siege for several days. After the urgent evacuation order, marked by reports of patients leaving at gunpoint, left the hospital largely deserted, with more than 7,000 Palestinians, including critically ill patients and newborns, seeking refuge within its walls.
Israeli troops besieged Al-Shifa Hospital for days, culminating in a forced evacuation on Saturday. According to Mohammed Zaqout, the director-general of hospitals in Gaza, the evacuation was carried out under duress, with Israeli forces compelling doctors and patients to leave at gunpoint. The hospital, a critical lifeline for many in the region, housed over 7,000 people, including those in critical condition and newborns fighting for survival.
Amid the chaos, a doctor at the hospital revealed that they received an evacuation order from Israeli forces with a one-hour deadline, but the lack of ambulances and transportation means hindered the evacuation of everyone. This led to a “great state of panic and fear” within the hospital, reported Al Jazeera.
Distressing Scenes at Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital
While some managed to leave on foot, patients unable to move, amputees, and those in critical conditions were reportedly left behind with a limited number of medical staff. The situation turned dire, especially for the 35 premature babies who had been without incubators for eight days due to the lack of oxygen and electricity. Meanwhile, four babies died on Friday, and five others are now severely ill.
As the Israeli army’s evacuation deadline passed, scenes of desperation unfolded outside Al-Shifa Hospital. Omar Zaqout, the hospital’s supervisor, described the evacuation route through al-Wehda road as appalling, with dozens of dead bodies scattered on the road and homeless individuals who couldn’t walk left out in the open.
Munir al-Barsh, a doctor at Al-Shifa Hospital, recounted the humiliating conditions imposed by the Israeli army during the evacuation. Evacuees were instructed to wave white handkerchiefs and walk in a single line, facing humiliation along the way. Patients, some on wheelchairs or rolling beds, and their family members were subjected to unprecedented scenes of distress.
The Israeli army directed the evacuation through al-Rashid street, deviating from the usual route, Salah al-Din street, intensifying the challenges faced by those forced to leave the besieged hospital.