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Gaza hospital braces for airstrikes after communications blackout and health-care ‘nightmare’

Al-Quds Hospital is sheltering over 12,000 displaced Palestinians and patients, according to the hospital director and the Palestine Red Crescent Society. Israel says Hamas is using hospitals as command centres, while international organizations renew calls for a ceasefire and humanitarian corridor.

Israel says Hamas uses hospitals as command centres, as rockets land near Al-Quds Hospital

A child holds a baby while sitting on the floor of a hospital.

Israeli rockets are landing close to the Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City, according to the hospital director and Palestine Red Crescent Society.

The humanitarian organization, which is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, said Sunday that the hospital received two phone calls "with a clear and direct threat" from Israeli authorities instructing them to evacuate the hospital.

"They mentioned that this area is going to be a military zone, that there will be clashes and the area will be dangerous and that we have to evacuate quickly," said Bassam Mourad, director of Al-Quds Hospital.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said the hospital is sheltering about 12,000 displaced Palestinians in addition to hundreds of injured people and other patients needing care.

Israeli tanks, infantry push into Gaza as Palestinian death toll rises:

Israeli officials said Hamas is using hospitals as military command centres, as the nation expanded its ground offensive after weeks of bombarding the densely packed Gaza Strip.

"By using hospitals as command centres, Hamas commits yet again a war crime and provides proof that they do not care about Palestinians' lives," Israel's ambassador to Canada, Iddo Moed, said in a statement on Friday. "Hamas terrorists operate inside hospital compounds precisely because they know the IDF upholds the rules of armed conflict and avoids targeting civilians."

According to a World Health Organization update on Saturday, there were also reports of bombardments near the Indonesia and al-Shifa hospitals, when phone and internet services were cut as Israeli jets dropped more bombs.

"WHO reiterates that it is impossible to evacuate patients without endangering their lives," the organization said in a statement, amid a region-wide communications blackout. "There are more wounded every hour. But ambulances cannot reach them in the communications blackout. Morgues are full. More than half of the dead are women and children."

More than 1,400 people were slain in Israel during the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and over 200 people taken hostage, according to the Israeli government. Since then, over 8,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel's retaliation, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. Gaza's Hamas-run government media office says 116 medics and 35 journalists have been killed since the conflict erupted.

CBC has not independently verified the death tolls presented by the respective governments.

Among the dead in Gaza are 59 United Nations officials, for whom the UN Relief and Works Agency held a funeral service on Sunday.

WATCH | There's 'no time to be sad or cry,' reads message from Gaza nurse:

Health-care situation in Gaza 'unbearable'

2 days ago

Duration 5:19

Featured VideoCanadian physician Dr. Tanya Haj-Hassan says she heard from doctors in Gaza regularly before communication was cut off. She shared a message she received from one of her nursing colleagues on the ground, who wrote that 'death did not have mercy on anyone, young or old.'

The Israeli military said Sunday that it had struck over 450 militant targets during the 24-hour communication blackout, including Hamas command centres, observation posts and anti-tank missile launching positions.

At a nationally televised news conference on Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said any accusation that Israeli forces are committing war crimes is hypocritical.

UN delivers birthing kits for pregnant Gaza women

In the wake of a phone and internet blackout that lasted a day, during which Israeli forces expanded their ground offensive in Gaza, multiple international organizations are renewing their calls for a ceasefire and reiterating the fact that hospitals are protected by international law.

"This includes health workers, patients, health facilities and ambulances, and civilians who are sheltering in these facilities," reads a statement from the WHO on Saturday.

According to Laila Baker, the regional director for Arab states at the United Nations Population Fund, there remain just four ambulances that can reach people in Gaza City.

The organization is working to distribute birthing kits to the 50,000 pregnant people across Gaza. These kits, Baker said, range from basic supplies like soap, razor blades and ropes to tie umbilical cords, to more extensive units that include disposable equipment and supplies.

WATCH | Low supplies, lasting trauma for pregnant Gaza women:

UN concerned for pregnant women's welfare in Gaza, says only 4 ambulances left

14 hours ago

Duration 7:52

Featured VideoLaila Baker, the regional director for Arab states at the United Nations Population Fund, says the UN is distributing birthing kits with basic hygiene supplies to help some of Gaza's 50,000 pregnant women give birth safely amid a worsening health-care situation due to Israeli airstrikes and an expanded ground offensive.

"We had one woman who said, 'Every step that I took was a race to death,'" Baker told CBC's Rosemary Barton Live. "We had another … where a woman was terrified that her baby was hearing the sounds of the bombs while she was delivering. I can't imagine what kind of trauma that she and her child will live with for the rest of their lives even in the event that they could survive the birth itself."

A "thin trickle" of supplies and aid trucks has been allowed into Gaza, Baker said, since Israel announced a total siege of the Gaza Strip on Oct. 9.

The dire shortage of essentials like food and water led to thousands of people breaking into four UN aid warehouses on Saturday, UNRWA said. It's "a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down after three weeks of war and a tight siege on Gaza," said UNRWA director Thomas White.

Juliette Touma, a spokesperson for the agency, added that the warehouses did not have any fuel, which has been in critical short supply since the blockade.

Ambulances, hospital generators need fuel, Red Cross regional director says

Dr. Hossam Elsharkawi, Middle East regional director at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia, called for a humanitarian corridor to allow the provision of much needed aid for civilians, if a ceasefire is out of question.

"Gaza was under siege for 17 years [and] needed 400 trucks of assistance every single day before this war started," Elsharkawi told CBC, referring to the blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt since 2006, as documented by the United Nations. "We welcome whatever aid is allowed in, but fuel is also not allowed in and that is critical for the ambulances to operate, and the generators at hospitals and the water pumps to operate … This is a nightmare scenario we are dealing with."

He said a Red Cross delegation was unsuccessful in talks with Egypt on Saturday to convince each party to allow more than the current 20 aid trucks a day to enter Gaza, calling the small amount of help a "symbolic" gesture.

WATCH | Much more aid needed in Gaza, says Red Cross regional director:

Gaza aid issues a ‘nightmare scenario,’ Red Cross regional director says

11 hours ago

Duration 1:09

Featured VideoDr. Hossam Elsharkawi, director at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia, says the amount of aid currently getting into Gaza is welcomed but 'symbolic' and calls for humanitarian groups to have the ability to deliver aid unimpeded.

The International Criminal Court uploaded a video Sunday of prosecutor Karim Khan at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza. In the video posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, Khan said he could not enter Gaza and is looking to visit both Gaza and Israel during his trip.

"There's a dire humanitarian situation developing," Khan said. "We have active investigations ongoing in relation to the crimes allegedly committed in Israel on the seventh of October, and also in relation to Gaza and the West Bank and that jurisdiction going back to 2014."

He cited "international architecture" built after the Holocaust and the Second World War that was created to "ensure never again would we see abominations where people could be targeted because of their race, their religion, their culture, where they come from, or what passport they hold."

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