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WHO gains access to a Gaza hospital, reporting dire conditions

The IDF raided the hospital after it said it received intelligence that hostages kidnapped on Oct. 7 were previously held there.
WHO gains access to a Gaza hospital, reporting dire conditions
Posted at 2:29 PM, Feb 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-21 16:30:18-05

One of Gaza's largest and last remaining hospitals is no longer functional days after the Israel Defense Forces besieged and subsequently raided it last week.

A medical team from the World Health Organization was finally allowed to enter Nasser Hospital this week after the IDF previously barred the group from entering the facility to check on patients.

Doctors who saw the inside of the hospital called it a "death zone."

"We were shocked what we actually saw in Nasser Medical Complex," said Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, WHO's representative in the occupied Palestinian territory. "There's waste everywhere. Electricity was, was not working. Not working. Parts of the hospital are damaged, and some severely damaged."

The IDF said one of the goals of their operations in and around the hospital in recent days was to keep it functioning. In a video statement, IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari said, "A key objective as defined by our military mission is to ensure that Nasser Hospital continues its important function of treating Gazan patients. We communicated this in a number of conversations we had with the hospital staff over the last few days. We emphasized that there is no obligation for patients or staff to evacuate the hospital."

SEE MORE: Chicago doctor describes heartbreaking scenes in Rafah, vows to return

The IDF raided the hospital after it said it received intelligence that hostages kidnapped on Oct. 7 were previously held there. The military also claimed Hamas was operating from the hospital.

The only evidence of this shared by the IDF so far are videos from after they raided the hospital showing medicine meant for hostages and two vehicles they say were connected with the Oct. 7 attacks.

Nasser Hospital and the surrounding area were flooded with internally displaced people from northern Gaza as the war put more and more pressure on people to flee their homes or risk being killed.

Satellite imagery from Planet Labs, a commercial satellite company, showed the hospital and surrounding schools fill up with temporary structures.

As IDF operations moved south, many people left, but not everyone could — especially patients in critical condition at the hospital.

Eventually, the hospital came under siege, and doctors there started sharing videos on social media of IDF armored vehicles and bulldozers on the outskirts.

Videos showed multiple attempts by the IDF to get people to evacuate, even apparently using a small quadcopter.

Another attempt was made to get people to leave when an IDF prisoner was sent into the hospital complex to order an evacuation.

At least 130 patients and 15 doctors and nurses remain in Nasser Hospital. It's not clear how or when they'll be evacuated, but the timing may become important as Israel considers expanding its operations in southern Gaza to the city of Rafah.


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