WHO chief 'extremely worried' after losing contact with Gaza hospital

The head of the World Health Organization said he was “extremely worried” Wednesday after the organization lost contact with its staff inside al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza once the Israeli military began a raid of the site.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called reports of the raid “deeply concerning.” 

“We’ve lost touch again with health personnel at the hospital,” he said on X, formerly Twitter, early Wednesday morning. “We’re extremely worried for their and their patients’ safety.”

The Israeli military described the raid on the hospital Tuesday evening as “a precise and targeted operation against Hamas” in a “specified area” of the hospital. 

Fighting in Gaza has centered on al-Shifa hospital for days, where thousands have sheltered from Israeli airstrikes. The Israeli military says the hospital is being used by Hamas as a command post, a claim denied by both Hamas and hospital administrators.

The Israeli military denied that the hospital was under “siege” on Saturday, despite reports from inside the hospital in recent days that people were shot at and that “constant bombardment” prevented them from leaving.

“The occupation is still besieging the hospital and they are firing into the yards from time to time. We still can’t move around, but sometimes doctors are taking the risk when they need to attend to patients,” Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said Tuesday.

The WHO described al-Shifa as “almost a cemetery,” saying that over a hundred dead bodies were inside the hospital and could not be safely transported or buried due to Israeli military presence.

“Around the hospital there are dead bodies which cannot be taken care of or not even be buried or taken away to any sort of morgue,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told the BBC on Tuesday. “The hospital is not working at all any more as it should. It’s nearly a cemetery.”

The fighting around al-Shifa in the past few days has already damaged the facility, which has reportedly run out of water, food and electricity. Some patients without ventilators have died, according to Doctors Without Borders, a humanitarian group.

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