Explained: Inside Al Shifa hospital, the tensions and struggles amid Israel-Hamas conflict
Hamas leaders, health authorities, and Al Shifa's directors have vehemently denied claims of concealing military infrastructure within or beneath the hospital complex. They've expressed a willingness to welcome international inspections to refute these accusations.
Amidst ongoing conflict, Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza, the largest in the strip, has become a central focus. Both Israel and the US allege that Hamas militants have been using Gaza's hospitals, including Al Shifa, to hide command posts and hostages via underground tunnels.
Contrary to these allegations, Hamas leaders, health authorities, and Al Shifa's directors have vehemently denied claims of concealing military infrastructure within or beneath the hospital complex. They've expressed a willingness to welcome international inspections to refute these accusations.
What does Shifa mean?
The sprawling complex of Al Shifa lies near Gaza City's fishing port, encompassing various buildings and courtyards. The name "Shifa" translates to "healing" in Arabic, a commonly used term for hospitals across the Middle East.
How many babies are in Al Shifa?
Amidst the conflict, Al Shifa has been caring for 36 babies, with medical staff reporting a lack of clear mechanisms to relocate them despite Israeli attempts to provide incubators for evacuation. Tragically, three premature babies have already succumbed to the conditions after the hospital faced fuel shortages to power their incubators.
When was Al Shifa constructed?
Constructed in 1946 under British rule, Al Shifa has endured various conflicts. Even during Egyptian occupation and Israeli control in 1967, it remained a significant point for treating Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli forces.
Control of Al Shifa shifted over time. In 1994, during the Oslo peace process, Palestinian forces, primarily Fatah-dominated, raised the Palestinian flag over the hospital. However, effective control transitioned from the Palestinian Authority to Hamas after the latter's victory in the 2006 elections and subsequent military control in 2007.
Throughout this tumultuous period, Al Shifa has been a site for treating wounded fighters from both Fatah and Hamas, embodying a delicate truce amid political strife.