Biden Says Gaza Hospitals Must Be Protected.

Photo: Times of Israel. The scorched parking lot of the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City after an overnight blast there, October 18th, 2023
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U.S. President Joe Biden says hospitals in Gaza “must be protected” from bombing as Israeli forces continue to target health care facilities in the Palestinian enclave claiming that Hamas is using them as cover for military operations.

The president was reacting to reports of the worsening crisis at Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza City’s main medical center, which has been surrounded and under siege by Israeli forces for several days.

Services at Al Shifa have been shut down due to a lack of fuel, food and water.

Thousands of desperate patients fled Shifa hospital over the weekend, leaving just 650 patients along with thousands of displaced Palestinians seeking shelter from the fighting.

The Palestinian health ministry said Monday that 32 patients at Al Shifa, including three infants, have died since the siege began due to the lack of electricity.

Doctors running low on supplies are reported to be performing surgery there on war-wounded patients, including children, without anesthesia. One medic shared a photo showing nine premature babies sharing a crib.

This photo released by Dr. Marawan Abu Saada shows prematurely born Palestinian babies in Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Nov. 12, 2023. (Dr. Marawan Abu Saada via AP)
This photo released by Dr. Marawan Abu Saada shows prematurely born Palestinian babies in Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Nov. 12, 2023. (Dr. Marawan Abu Saada)

The Israeli military said Tuesday it will transfer incubators, which are used to keep premature newborn infants warm, from Israel to Al Shifa hospital.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the medical center “is not functioning as a hospital anymore” and the situation at Gaza’s largest hospital is “dire and perilous.”

The WHO chief said, “The constant gunfire and bombings’” around the hospital have “exacerbated the already critical circumstances.”

Al Quds, another Gaza hospital, shut down Sunday because it ran out of fuel.

Israel says Hamas, a U.S.-designated terror group, is shielding itself among civilians at the hospital and has a command center in and beneath the medical compound.

Israel has not provided photos or videos to back up its claims about Hamas militants at Al-Shifa, although it has shared footage of militants operating in residential neighborhoods and positioning rockets and weapons near schools and mosques.

Both Hamas and the hospital staff deny the Israeli allegations.

“It is my hope and expectation that there will be less intrusive action relative to the hospitals,” President Biden told reporters during an event in the Oval Office.

Palestinian authorities in Gaza say more than 11,000 people – about 40% of them children – have been killed since Israel launched a major air and ground offensive in response to the attack by Hamas militants on southern Israel on Oct. 7th that left 1,200 people dead. More than 240 people were kidnapped and are currently being held hostage by Hamas.

The Israeli military Tuesday confirmed the death of a 19-year-old soldier who was captured in the October 7th attacks.

The military wing of Hamas issued a video Monday of a woman who identified herself as Noa Marciano.

She said she had been held in Gaza for four days and urged Israel to end the bombing campaign. The video then showed still images of the woman’s lifeless, bloodstained body lying on a sheet. Hamas said she had been killed by Israeli airstrikes last Thursday.

Israel’s military confirmed the video was that of Marciano, who was attached to a unit deployed at the Israel-Gaza border.

The army said Marciano died at the hands of a terrorist organization, but did not comment on the circumstances of her death.

Israel has rejected growing and intense international pressure to impose a cease-fire to allow for the delivery of critically needed humanitarian aid to Gaza. But it has agreed to four-hour daily humanitarian pauses to allow the opening of two corridors to allow Palestinians to evacuate northern Gaza.

David Ignatius, the foreign affairs columnist for The Washington Post, reported Monday that Israel and Hamas are close to reaching a deal that would free several of the Israeli women and children who were kidnapped during the Oct. 7th raid, in exchange for Israel’s release of dozens of Palestinian women and young people being held in Israeli prisons.

The potential deal, also reported by Agence France-Presse, would be accompanied by a temporary cease-fire of five days to allow for safe travel for the Israeli captives, as well as humanitarian aid to reach Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

The Israel-Hamas war has led to growing dissent within the U.S. State Department about the Biden administration’s approach to the conflict. Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a letter to all employees Monday, acknowledging that “the suffering caused by this crisis is taking a profound personal toll.”

“The anguish that comes with seeing the daily images of babies, children, elderly people, women, and other civilians suffering in this crisis is wrenching. I feel it myself,” Blinken said in the letter, written days after returning from a round of personal diplomacy in the Middle East and Asia.

Blinken assured State Department personnel that senior officials are listening to their concerns because “what you share is informing our policy and our messages.”

Anonymous officials tell news outlets that multiple cables criticizing the administration’s policy have been filed through the State Department’s dissent channel, which was established during the Vietnam War to allow diplomats to express disagreements with U.S. foreign policy without fear of punishment.

Officials in Washington are expecting thousands of people to attend a rally on the National Mall Tuesday in support of Israel and to demand the release of the hostages being held by Hamas.

The rally is being organized by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Source: VOA.
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