Two critically ill children among hundreds of patients trapped inside Shifa Hospital amid Israeli military siege

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) calls for the urgent protection of hundreds of healthcare workers, patients, and displaced civilians trapped inside the Shifa Hospital in Gaza, following the Israeli military’s invasion and five-day siege.

Israeli forces have killed more than 150 Palestinians and arrested 600, including medical staff and displaced people. Hundreds of patients, medical staff and displaced people are trapped inside Shifa Hospital with little food and water.

Among those trapped inside are two children, siblings Rafif Doughnosh, 13, and Rafiq Doughnosh, 15. The children suffered severe injuries from an Israeli military airstrike, which also killed their mother and ten other family members, and had to have their limbs amputated.

MAP has been urgently working with partners to evacuate the critically ill children – and all patients in the hospital. The children have no water, have not eaten for several days and were already malnourished. They are in urgent need of medical treatment, including surgery. The Israeli army is preventing medical or humanitarian missions from entering Shifa Hospital and ordered the children’s uncle, Mahmoud, who was caring for them, to leave the hospital.

Mahmoud said: “I was forced to leave my Rafif and Rafiq alone, with severe injuries and no medical care, under Israeli military siege. I cannot explain how terrified I am. The Israeli army forced the children, along with around 200 to 300 patients to stay together in one hospital department, with no medical care, food or water. Rafif and Rafiq not only lost their family members and limbs, but they are left in pain, in fear, in the most cruel circumstances I can ever imagine.”

MAP continues to work for the evacuation of the children to the nearby Al Aqsa Hospital, where MAP’s emergency medical team are working.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that Israel’s ongoing siege in and around Shifa Hospital, is making it impossible to access. All of the WHO’s planned medical missions have been cancelled due to the insecurity.

The Israeli military’s relentless attacks on healthcare personnel and facilities, and total siege of Gaza, are systematically dismantling Gaza’s health system. Since 7 October 2023, Israeli forces have attacked every hospital, killed 348 healthcare workers – and detained and injured hundreds more – and damaged 126 ambulances.

This is the second time in five months the Israeli military has invaded and trapped civilians inside Shifa Hospital. The last military raid left the hospital largely non-functional and led to the deaths of tens of patients, including premature babies.

Hospitals, medical staff and civilians all have protected status under international law. That protection must be strictly upheld by all parties to the conflict, and safe access for humanitarians must be guaranteed across all of Gaza.

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