Hospitals Are Supposed To Be For Healing. In Gaza, They're Part Of The War Zone

As the number of dead and wounded from the conflict between Israel and Gaza continues to soar on either side, several Palestinian hospitals have found themselves directly in the line of fire.

According to the United Nations' humanitarian office, 22 health facilities, including hospitals and clinics, have been damaged or destroyed in the recent wave of violence between Gaza militants and the Israeli military. Shortly before al-Shifa hospital was struck on Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that it had been able to verify that at least eight hospitals have been damaged since fighting flared. The organization said it was still assessing accounts of damage to six others. In some cases, Israel and Hamas have traded blame over the source of fire; in others, Israel says it was targeting weapons stores or militant fire in the vicinity of the hospital.

The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent have condemned the attacks, noting that medical staff and facilities are protected under international law, regardless of who is responsible for an attack or why a health facility was hit.

"The current campaign has put hospitals themselves on the front line to an unprecedented extent," the British Medical Journal wrote on Monday.

These are the hospitals that have been hit in Gaza so far:

1. Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza City

Gaza's largest hospital, the 600-bed Shifa medical complex in Gaza City, has provided care to hundreds of wounded Palestinians and has provided shelter to some 2,000 civilians in the past weeks. The hospital was struck by explosions on Monday, July 28. The blasts, which the Israeli army and Hamas blamed on each other, destroyed part of an outpatient clinic and left a 2-foot deep crater, without causing any injuries.

Palestinians inspect the destroyed wall of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, July 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

2. Beit Hanoun Hospital, North Gaza

The hospital serving the northern Gaza city of Beit Hanoun closed down after it came under fire for the second time on July 25. According to the World Health Organization, the shelling destroyed the emergency room and wounded a nurse and international visitor. The World Health Organization added that just outside the hospital, an ambulance worker was killed while trying to rescue the wounded. Witnesses told Haaretz newspaper that the Israeli military shelled the hospital for hours, leaving staff, international visitors and a few remaining patients trapped inside. An unnamed Israeli commander told the Israeli news site Ynet that there was an ammunitions warehouse underneath the hospital.

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Displaced Palestinians take refuge at Beit Hanoun hospital in the northern Gaza Strip after their shelter at a U.N. school was shelled, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

3. Mohamed Durra Children's Hospital, Gaza City

A small children's hospital east of Gaza City was hit by shrapnel on July 25, killing a 2-year-old child who was undergoing CPR in the intensive care unit at the time, Gaza's Ministry of Health said. Doctors told the WHO that six people who were injured in the blast also died of their wounds the next day. The Israeli army told the Palestinian news site Ma'an News Agency that it was looking into medics' reports that Israeli forces shelled the compound.

4. Balsam Military Hospital, North Gaza

Balsam Military Hospital in the north Gaza town Beit Lahiya was evacuated and closed on July 23 after it was damaged by fighting, according to the WHO. Gaza's Ministry of Health said the facility had previously been hit on July 11, causing damage to the surgery department, operating theater and pediatrics ward.

5. Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, Central Gaza

Israeli shells struck the 164-bed al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the central area of Deir al-Balah on July 21, Gaza's Ministry of Health said. The non-profit group Physicians for Human Rights - Israel said that five people were killed and 70 injured in the blast, including dozens of medical staff. Ambulances tried to evacuate the wounded, but had to turn back when shells continued to fall, The Guardian reported. The Israeli army said that an "initial investigation suggests that a cache of anti-tank missiles was stored in the immediate vicinity of the hospital. This cache was successfully targeted by IDF forces."

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A Palestinian employee inspects damage at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, after the building was shelled on July 21, 2014. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)

6. Al-Quds Hospital, Gaza City

A fire broke out in Gaza City's al-Quds hospital after the building came under fire on July 17, Ma'an News Agency reported. The WHO said that the non-profit hospital was moderately damaged and remained open.

7. Al-Wafa Rehabilitation Center, Gaza City

An Israeli airstrike severely damaged a non-profit hospital for the disabled and elderly in Shujaiyeh, east of Gaza City, on July 17, injuring four staff members, Agence France Presse reported. The hospital was first damaged by shelling a week earlier. The director of the rehabilitation center told AFP that he was unable to heed Israeli warnings to evacuate, as many of the patients are paralyzed or in a coma. Eventually he was able to get the patients out before Israel bombed the site. The Israeli army said that Palestinian militant groups used the hospital compound to launch attacks.

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Palestinian patients lie on hospital beds in the Al-Wafa rehabilitation hospital near Gaza City on July 16, 2014. (THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

8. Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, Gaza City

Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, was already short on medicine and overflowing with patients wounded by the conflict when airstrikes damaged its emergency room, operation theater and ventilation system in mid-July. Founded as a Christian missionary organization in 1882, the 80-bed hospital was also providing shelter to around 100 displaced families.

9. Gaza European Hospital, South Gaza

The Gaza European Hospital in Khan Younis, one of Gaza's biggest public health facilities, was damaged by an Israeli airstrike shortly after hostilities broke out in early July, the United Nations said. The ICU and pediatrics ward were evacuated and a nurse was wounded in the attack, according to the U.N. report.



08/08/2014 2:47 PM EDT

White House Concerned By Renewed Fighting

From Reuters:

The White House on Friday urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume talks and do what they can to protect civilians after Egyptian-mediated negotiations failed to extend a ceasefire and rocket fire resumed.

"The United States is very concerned about today's developments in Gaza," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

"We condemn the renewed rocket fire and we are concerned about the safety and security of civilians on both sides of that conflict," he said.

08/08/2014 1:42 PM EDT

Official: 5 Palestinians Killed In Gaza

Five Palestinians, including a 10-year-old boy, have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza since a ceasefire fell apart on Friday, a Palestinian medical official reported to Agence France Presse.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army said Palestinian militants fired 35 rockets into Israel on Friday, injuring a soldier and a civilian.


The father of a ten-year old Palestinian boy, who was killed in an Israeli air strike on the Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood in northern Gaza City, mourns at the city's Al-Shifa hospital, on August 8, 2014. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)

08/08/2014 9:23 AM EDT

Palestinian Delegation Says Gaza Talks Will Continue

From Reuters:

Palestinian factions will remain in Cairo and press on with Egyptian-mediated talks despite the end of the ceasefire in Gaza, the head of the delegation, Fatah official Azzam Ahmed, said on Friday.

"We are not for escalation. We are ready to continue through our Egyptian brothers in negotiating to reach a final agreement that would return the rights to their owners," Ahmed said. "I mean here lifting the blockade of Gaza."

Ahmed said Palestinian negotiators were due to meet Egyptian intelligence officials, who have been mediating the talks, later in the day. He said Palestinian factions were united in their decision not to extend the 72-hour truce that ended at 0500 GMT and had been clear about their basic demands to end the conflict.

08/08/2014 9:13 AM EDT

Egypt: Agreement Close In Gaza Talks

Reuters reports:

Egypt called on Friday for an immediate resumption of the ceasefire in Gaza and a return to the negotiating table, saying that only a few outstanding issues remained in negotiations it was mediating between Israel and the Palestinians.

"The foreign ministry calls on all sides to rise to their responsibilities ... and to return immediately to the ceasefire commitment and exploit the opportunity available to resume negotiations on the very limited sticking points that remain in the fastest possible time," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

08/08/2014 3:58 AM EDT

Israeli Airstrikes On Gaza Resume

08/08/2014 3:02 AM EDT

Cease-Fire Ends With New Rocket Attacks

A 72-hour cease-fire expired at 8 a.m. today, and not long after, Gaza militants began firing rockets at Israel, The Associated Press reported.

The Israeli military said at least 10 rockets had been fired at Israel since the truce ended. Prior to the attacks, a senior official for Hamas said the militant groups would not extend the cease-fire.

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08/06/2014 2:46 PM EDT

Official: Israel Agrees To Extend Ceasefire

From Reuters:

Israel has conditionally agreed to extend a ceasefire that ended a month of fighting in Gaza beyond a Friday deadline, an Israeli official said on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official did not say for how much longer Israel had agreed to extend the truce, only that: "Israel has expressed its readiness to extend the truce under its current terms," referring to the deal brokered by Egypt that took effect on Tuesday.

Hamas had no immediate comment.

08/06/2014 2:12 PM EDT

IDF: Rocket Sirens Were False Alarm

08/06/2014 1:18 PM EDT

Report: Rocket Sirens Sound At Gaza Border

ABC Foreign Editor Jon Williams reports that the IDF have confirmed the rocket sirens are sounding, but are checking to see if it is a false alarm.

08/05/2014 4:20 PM EDT

Israel Arrests Kidnapping Suspect

Reuters reports that Israel has arrested one of the suspects in the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June.

Hussam Kawasme, a 40-year-old resident of the West Bank city of Hebron, was arrested on July 11 in connection with the killing of Israelis Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrah, who went missing on June 12 and were discovered dead a couple of weeks later.

Their kidnapping sparked a cycle of violence that led to the month-long conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Kawasme's arrest was made public for the first time on Tuesday in a document from an Israeli court case over whether houses belonging to him and two other suspects - who remain at large - should be destroyed as a punitive measure.

The lawyers listed as representing Kawasme were not reachable for comment.

The court document said Kawasme had admitted to helping to organize the kidnapping - securing funding from the Hamas Islamist group in Gaza and purchasing weapons which he passed on to the two other suspects who carried out the attack.

Kawasme also helped to bury the bodies of the teenagers in a plot of land he had bought a few months earlier, it said.

Israel has named the other two suspects in the case as Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha.