Gaza Doctors Plead for Help Saving Premature Babies at al-Shifa Hospital

At least three babies have died since incubators stopped working

Doctors at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital are pleading for help as the medical facility has ceased functioning after its power failed over the weekend amid an Israeli siege. The medical staff has refused to evacuate the hospital due to fears that the approximately 700 hundred patients they would leave behind will die.

Among the at-risk patients are newborn and premature babies who were taken off incubators due to the power outage. Dr. Ahmed Mokhallalati, al-Shifa’s head of plastic surgery, told ABC News that three out of 39 babies in the hospital’s neonatal unit have died since the incubators stopped working on Saturday.

Dr. Shireen Noman Abed, a neonatologist, said she expects all the babies to die due to a lack of clean water to mix formula with. “Most of them are pre-term babies who need incubators, who need electricity, who need special food, who need care,” she said. “We expect all to die because they don’t have water to prepare [formula] for them.”

The three babies who died were among the 32 patients Gaza’s Health Ministry said lost their lives in the past three days due to power outages and Israeli siege. Israel is justifying its attack on the hospital by claiming a Hamas command center is underneath the facility, a claim strongly denied by Hamas and hospital staff.

“The tanks are in front of the hospital. We are under full blockade. It’s a totally civilian area. Only hospital facility, hospital patients, doctors and other civilians staying in the hospital. Someone should stop this,” Mokhallalati said, according to Reuters.

“They bombed the (water) tanks, they bombed the water wells, they bombed the oxygen pump as well. They bombed everything in the hospital. So we are hardly surviving. We tell everyone, the hospital is no more a safe place for treating patients. We are harming patients by keeping them here,” he added.

The medical charity Doctors Without Borders put out a press release on Monday after getting in contact with one of its surgeons in al-Shifa. The surgeon detailed the situation at the hospital.

“We don’t have electricity. There’s no water in the hospital. There’s no food. People will die in a few hours without functioning ventilators. In front of the main gate, there are many bodies. There are also injured patients; we can’t bring them inside,” the surgeon said. “When we sent an ambulance to bring the patients—a few meters away—and they attacked the ambulance. There are injured people around the hospital looking for medical care. We can’t bring them inside. There’s also a sniper who attacked patients, they have gunshot wounds. We operated on three of them.”

The surgeon said the medical staff needs a guaranteed safe corridor to evacuate the hospital because some people who tried to leave were killed. “Inside Al-Shifa Hospital, there are injured patients and medical teams. If they give us guarantees and evacuate the patients first, we will evacuate,” the surgeon said.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.