More than 20 patients were killed in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza amid Israeli raid

More than 20 patients have died at Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital in the last two days as Israeli forces continue to raid the facility, according to a hospital official and the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza.

Muhammad Abu Salmiya, director of al-Shifa Hospital, told Al Jazeera that 22 patients had died overnight.

The health ministry said on Friday that 24 patients died over the past 48 hours due to power cuts at the hospital, which has been out of service since Saturday amid a fuel shortage.

“Twenty-four patients in different departments have died over the last 48 hours as vital medical equipment has stopped functioning because of the power outage,” said health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra on Friday.

The health facility has become the focus of Israel’s ground offensive in northern Gaza, with special forces combing through the facility since Wednesday amid growing international alarm about the fate of the hundreds of patients and thousands of civilians seeking shelter there.

Israel has alleged that Hamas fighters are using a tunnel complex beneath the hospital to stage attacks. Hamas and hospital officials have repeatedly denied the claims.

Israel said its forces had found a vehicle with a large number of weapons, and an underground structure it called a Hamas tunnel shaft, after two days searching the premises.

The army also said it had found the bodies of two hostages in buildings near, though not inside, the hospital grounds.

The Palestinian health ministry said the raid has destroyed medical services in the hospital, where the UN estimated 2,300 patients, staff and displaced Palestinians were sheltering before Israeli troops moved in.

Al-Shifa staff said a premature baby died at the hospital on Friday, the first baby to die there in the two days since Israeli forces entered.

Three had died in the previous days while the hospital was surrounded by Israeli forces.

Muhammad Abu Salmiya, director of al-Shifa Hospital, told Al Jazeera that the medical compound has become a “big prison” and a “mass grave” for all those inside.

“We are left with nothing – no power, no food, no water. With every passing minute, we are losing a life. Overnight, we lost 22 persons, [and] for the past three days, the hospital has been kept under siege,” Salmiya said.

Israel imposed a strict blockade and launched a military assault on Gaza last month after Hamas carried out an attack on southern Israel, killing about 1,200 pSHIFAeople, and taking about 240 others hostage, according to Israeli officials.

The Israeli air and ground assault has killed more than 12,000 people, including 5,000 children, according to Palestinian authorities in Gaza.

Now in its seventh week, the Israeli siege has severely restricted supplies of food, water, electricity and fuel to the 2.3 million residents of the Gaza Strip, with aid agencies warning of a humanitarian crisis in the territory.

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