The dire situation at Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza has been laid bare by a joint UN humanitarian assessment team, who risked their lives to access the hospital amid ongoing Israeli airstrikes in the Hamas-controlled strip. The World Health Organization (WHO) has highlighted the gravity of the humanitarian crisis, emphasizing the critical shortages facing the hospital.
Coordinated with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to secure a safe route, the mission faced heavy fighting in close proximity to the hospital. The team, comprising public health experts, logistics officers, and security staff from various UN agencies, described the situation inside Al-Shifa as “desperate” and referred to the hospital itself as a “death zone.”
The WHO statement outlined visible signs of shelling and gunfire, with the team encountering a mass grave at the hospital’s entrance, where over 80 people were reportedly buried.
Once the largest and most advanced referral hospital in Gaza, Al-Shifa is currently grappling with severe shortages of clean water, fuel, medicines, and food. The hospital is unable to admit new patients, redirecting them to the overwhelmed Indonesian Hospital. Presently, 25 health workers and 291 patients, including 32 critically ill babies, 2 individuals in intensive care without ventilation, and 22 dialysis patients with compromised access to treatment, remain at Al-Shifa.
WHO, in collaboration with partners, is urgently formulating plans for the immediate evacuation of remaining patients, staff, and their families. Over the next 24–72 hours, pending guarantees of safe passage by conflicting parties, additional missions are being arranged to urgently transport patients to other hospitals in the south of Gaza.
The UN health agency reiterated its call for an immediate ceasefire and sustained humanitarian assistance, emphasizing that options for medical care in the small coastal enclave are rapidly diminishing. The plight of Al-Shifa Hospital underscores the urgent need for international intervention to alleviate the suffering of those affected by the conflict.