‘No safe place’ in Gaza as Israeli attacks overwhelm hospitals

Nearly 800 Palestinians and more than 900 people in Israel killed in four days of fighting after Hamas’s attack.

Israel’s intense aerial attacks on the Gaza Strip have continued for a fourth straight day after Hamas, the group running the besieged enclave, sent thousands of rockets and fighters inside Israel in an unprecedented attack.

The bombardment has so far killed at least 770 Palestinians, including dozens of children, and wounded some 4,000 others. More than 900 people in Israel have also been killed in the Hamas attack, with at least 2,600 others wounded.

As Israel launched more than 200 air raids overnight on Tuesday, Palestinians in Gaza scrambled to find shelter in the tiny besieged enclave, home to 2.3 million people.

“I ran away from home at 1am with my child and my wife,” Gaza resident Shadi al-Hassi told Al Jazeera. “We escaped from being targeted and came to another targeted place. We were surprised by everything, as fire and flames were thrown at us. There is no safe place in the Gaza Strip.”

Later in the day, there were scenes of panic at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where medical workers and relatives were seen rushing to bring wounded people, including many children.

Reporting from Gaza’s largest hospital, Al Jazeera’s Youmna ElSayed said healthcare workers were “overwhelmed”.

“There is a white tent in the yard of the hospital, a [makeshift] extension to the morgue because they are full of bodies,” she said. “Some of the families have already taken their relatives quickly … in order to empty the morgue. No funerals are being held due to the intensity of the bombing.”

‘Signs of war’

On Monday, Israel said it was imposing a “total blockade” on the territory, cutting off supplies of food, water, fuel and electricity. Such a siege, with the intent to starve a population, is a war crime under United Nations statutes.

Staff at Al-Shifa said there was a shortage of medicines, supplies and equipment while the power cuts exacerbated the situation.

“Gaza has had only four hours of electricity in the past two days,” ElSayed reported. “The sole power plant here is saying it can only operate for a maximum of two more days after that,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army on Tuesday said it had regained full control of the areas around the Gaza fence after days of fighting with Hamas gunmen. Spokesman Daniel Hagari said the army’s engineering units were clearing the areas and holes in the fence with Gaza that was breached in the hours of Saturday by the Hamas fighters.

In the Israeli town of Ashdod, near Gaza, the sound of explosions could be heard “every few minutes”, Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds reported.

“You can see and hear signs of the war from here,” Reynolds said.

The Israeli army has called up 300,000 reservists, raising fears it planned a ground offensive into Gaza. Meanwhile, Hamas has threatened to kill a hostage, from the dozens it has taken captive, every time Israel bombs a Palestinian home without warning.

A child being rushed to a hospital in Gaza [Screengrab/Al Jazeera]

According to the World Health Organization, 13 attacks have hit health facilities since the fighting began, and pre-positioned medical supplies have already been used.

The UN agency has called for an end to the violence and an urgent need to create a humanitarian corridor into the Gaza Strip.

“WHO is calling for an end to the violence … a humanitarian corridor is needed to reach people with critical medical supplies,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told a press briefing in Geneva.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that close to 200,000 people, or nearly a tenth of the population, were displaced and had fled their homes amid the intense fighting.

“Displacement has escalated dramatically across the Gaza Strip, reaching more than 187,500 people since Saturday. Most are taking shelter in schools,” Jens Laerke, OCHA spokesperson said.

The Israeli blockade of the occupied Gaza Strip, in its current form, has been in place since June 2007. Israel controls Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters, as well as two of the three border crossing points; the third is controlled by Egypt.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday he was “deeply distressed” by Israel’s complete siege of the Gaza Strip which will worsen the already dire situation.

Source: Al Jazeera