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Gaza Infants Evacuated from Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital to Egypt

November 20, 2023

Ambulances carrying 28 premature babies crossed from Gaza into Egypt for life-saving treatment on 20 November after being evacuated from al-Shifa hospital to Rafah the day before.

Three of the 31 babies evacuated from al-Shifa reportedly stayed in Gaza as the families of two infants preferred them to stay for personal reasons, while the identity of the third baby is unknown. A medical spokesperson informed the BBC that the babies who remained in Gaza were in stable condition. The Egyptian Health and Population Minister Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghaffar has been overseeing the operation to treat the babies in Egypt. The babies were transferred to hospitals in Egypt, including El-Arish hospital, that have been prepared with relevant medical services to provide appropriate treatment.

The 31 neonatal infants, along with health workers and staff family members, had been evacuated from al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza to the neonatal intensive care unit at al-Helal al-Emarati Maternity Hospital in southern Gaza on 19 November due to the increasingly deteriorating conditions at al-Shifa Hospital. The evacuation, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), and UN agencies, aimed to address the lack of medical supplies and infection control.

Since 11 November, 40 patients, including premature babies, lost their lives at al-Shifa due to fuel shortages and electricity cuts. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and other organizations orchestrated the operation, responding to the tragic deaths at al-Shifa. The evacuation occurred in extremely dangerous circumstances, following Israel’s raid on al-Shifa, where the largest hospital in Gaza became a focal point in the ongoing conflict. 

The Israeli military contends that Hamas is using the hospital as a shield, a claim denied by both Hamas and hospital officials. 

Due to the constant bombings, many doctors, patients, and civilians are trapped, sparking a broad public concern over this harrowing situation for babies struggling to survive. The health ministry in Gaza reports that over 13,000 individuals have lost their lives in the territory since Israel initiated its brutal attacks against Palestinians in the region. 

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