As the Israel-Hamas conflict intensifies, Gaza’s largest hospital, Shifa, finds itself at the center of a mass evacuation, with patients, medical staff, and displaced individuals leaving the besieged facility. Conflicting narratives emerge from Palestinian officials and the Israeli military regarding the circumstances surrounding this dramatic exodus.
Gaza health officials claim that an evacuation order was received from the military on Saturday morning, prompting the departure of individuals from Shifa Hospital. In contrast, the Israeli military contends that safe passage was offered to those desiring to leave. The hospital, previously occupied by Israeli forces, witnessed several thousand people, including critically ill patients, trapped in dire conditions.
The situation further escalated on Friday when loud cracking sounds within the tunnel, coupled with a malfunction in the drilling machine, momentarily halted the rescue operation. To address this setback, a new top-notch drilling machine was airlifted from Indore, Madhya Pradesh, on Saturday. However, its deployment awaits the removal of the defective drilling machine currently inside the tunnel.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) updated the count of trapped individuals from 40 to 41 on November 18, assuring their safety. Despite the optimistic update, the rescue operation faces challenges due to technical glitches in the drilling machine and the intricate nature of the debris.
Rescuers plan to navigate 65-70 meters of debris by pushing a drill through and inserting two pipes of 800 mm and 900 mm sequentially. This approach aims to create a passage for the trapped workers to crawl to safety.
As the conflict rages on, the humanitarian crisis deepens, with internet and phone service partially restored in Gaza after a telecommunications blackout. However, this blackout temporarily halted critical humanitarian aid deliveries, highlighting the impact on coordination efforts.
Amidst these developments, an Israeli airstrike targeted a residential building in Khan Younis, resulting in at least 26 Palestinian casualties. Israel’s military actions in both northern and southern Gaza continue, with conflicting reports surrounding the evacuation order at Shifa Hospital.
The international community closely watches the evolving situation, with concerns rising about the well-being of civilians, the progress of the rescue operation, and the broader implications of the ongoing conflict.