28 Premature Babies Evacuated From Al-Shifa Hospital Arrive in Egypt

Thirty-one premature babies had been evacuated from Al-Shifa to southern Gaza, the Red Crescent and the World Health Organization said. It was not immediately clear why three of them had not been taken to Egypt.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which said that it had helped organize the evacuation, said on social media that five other babies “had already died due to lack of electricity and fuel” at Al-Shifa. Israel imposed a siege on Gaza, blocking fuel, food and water, after Oct. 7 when Hamas attacked Israel and killed around 1,200 people.

The W.H.O., which is a United Nations agency, said in a statement on Sunday that 11 of the babies were in critical condition and that all were fighting serious infections. None were accompanied by family members.

UNICEF, which said it had participated in the “extremely dangerous” evacuation effort, said the conditions of the babies had been “rapidly deteriorating.” It said that the babies had been moved to Rafah in temperature-controlled incubators.

The Israeli military said in a statement it had helped to facilitate the evacuation from the pediatric ward and provided incubators to Al-Shifa. It was not clear whether those were the incubators used to transport the babies.

The W.H.O.’s director general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, posted a photograph on X of a staff member in a blue United Nations helmet and bulletproof vest scooping up a tiny infant. The babies, along with six health care workers and 10 family members of hospital employees, were evacuated “under extremely intense and high-risk security conditions,” he wrote.

The authorities in Israel have said it has evidence that Hamas had a headquarters underneath Al-Shifa, something Hamas as well as doctors there deny.

Israel’s push to seize Al-Shifa last week set off a struggle to survive there. Doctors and health officials warned that nearly 40 premature babies were at particular risk. Some had been born to mothers who had been killed in airstrikes or who died shortly after giving birth, doctors at Al-Shifa have said. Some were the only survivors in their families.

Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Samar Abu Elouf – [source]

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