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Gaza City Hospitals Forced to Close Due to Bombing, Evacuation Order

Health officials were joined Tuesday by human rights experts in condemning Israel’s latest evacuation orders in Gaza City, with the World Health Organization’s director saying it would “further complicate the delivery of very limited life-saving care” as hospitals in the area struggle to treat sick and injured Palestinians.

The IDF insisted Tuesday morning that there was “no need to evacuate hospitals and medical facilities in the area” after ordering the evacuation of 70% of Gaza City on Monday. The IDF has ordered civilians to evacuate parts of the city three times since June 27 as it has stepped up its military operations, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee.

Despite claims by the IDF, the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, which partially manages the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, said it had closed and evacuated all patients and staff following a series of drone strikes in the “immediate vicinity” of the facility.

“To our great disappointment, our hospital is not operating at a time when demand for its services is so great and injured and sick people have few other options for receiving urgent medical care,” the diocese said in a statement.

Health authorities have been forced to transfer patients to other hospitals, which are also struggling to provide care because Israel’s near-total blockade of humanitarian aid since October has caused severe shortages of fuel and medical supplies.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director of the World Health Organization, said the Patient’s Friends Benevolent Society hospital in Gaza City was also out of action due to the evacuation order, putting additional strain on other facilities in the northern city of Beit Lahia, including Kamal Adwan and Indonesian hospitals.

These medical centers “are suffering from a shortage of fuel, beds and medical supplies to treat injuries,” Tedros said on social media. “The Indonesian Hospital is three times over capacity. Al-Helou Hospital is in the evacuation-ordered blocks but is still partially operational. As-Sahaba and al-Shifa hospitals are in close proximity to the evacuation-ordered areas but are still operational so far. Six medical posts and two primary health care centers are also in evacuation zones.”

“These vital hospitals and medical facilities could quickly become inoperable due to hostilities nearby or disruptions to access,” he added, before repeating his demand: “Ceasefire!”

Israel’s claim that hospitals in Gaza City remain safe despite the evacuation order comes after several Israeli bombings of medical facilities and other so-called “humanitarian areas” carried out since October.

Hospitals, including Al-Shifa in Gaza City, have become prime targets of the Israeli assault on the enclave, sparking protests from human rights activists who demanded that the IDF comply with international humanitarian law.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said on Tuesday it was “shocked” by the latest evacuation order issued by the Israel Defense Forces, noting that Palestinians have been dying after fleeing to supposedly “safe” zones since Israel began bombing.

Many of the people fleeing Gaza City this week “were forcibly displaced multiple times to evacuate to areas where IDF military operations are ongoing and civilians continue to be killed and injured,” the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a statement.

Deir al-Balah, where Gaza City residents were forced to relocate under the latest order, “is already seriously overcrowded due to Palestinians displaced from other areas of the Gaza Strip,” the office added.

Gaza’s Health Ministry says 38,243 people have been killed in the enclave since Israel began its attacks in retaliation for the October 7 Hamas attack.

While Israel has closed hospitals in Gaza City and occupied the southern part of the city, including the area around the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, another Israeli attack on the Bureij refugee camp on Tuesday killed nine people, including five children.

The IDF also said its warplanes attacked a “school complex” in the Nuseirat refugee camp.

“There is no truly safe corner in Gaza,” Tedros said.

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