BBC 2024-02-18 22:31:26

WHO says Gaza hospital raided by IDF not functional

The World Health Organization has said Gaza’s Nasser hospital has ceased to function following an Israeli raid.

Israel Defense Force (IDF) troops entered the complex on Thursday, saying intelligence indicated hostages taken by Hamas were being held there.

The WHO said it had not been allowed to enter the site to assess the situation.

The IDF has described its operation in Nasser as “precise and limited” and accused Hamas of “cynically using hospitals for terror”.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Nasser hospital in Gaza is not functional anymore, after a week-long siege followed by the ongoing raid.”

“Both yesterday and the day before, the WHO team was not permitted to enter the hospital to assess the conditions of the patients and critical medical needs, despite reaching the hospital compound to deliver fuel alongside partners,” he said.

“There are still about 200 patients in the hospital. At least 20 need to be urgently referred to other hospitals to receive health care; medical referral is every patient’s right.”

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says only four medical staff were left in the hospital trying to care for the remaining patients.

The BBC has not been able to access the hospital and has been unable to independently verify the situation there.

One source inside the hospital, who did not want to be named, told BBC News that 11 patients had died due to interruptions in the supply of electricity and oxygen, and that several doctors had been arrested.

The Israeli military said no-one died as a result of its actions, adding that its troops had been told to keep the hospital running.

It said diesel and oxygen supplies had been taken to the facility, and that a temporary generator was operating.

‘Without painkillers, we leave patients to scream for hours’

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Fighting has raged around the Nasser site for weeks. Israel has repeatedly claimed Hamas is using hospitals, along with schools, as operational bases.

The Israeli military says it has killed about 20 Hamas fighters and seized numerous weapons in the area of the hospital.

“Over the past day, dozens of terrorists were eliminated and large quantities of weapons were seized,” the IDF said.

At least 1,200 people were killed during attacks in Israel by Hamas-led gunmen on 7 October last year.

In response, Israel launched a military campaign in the Gaza Strip. More than 28,400 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed and more than 68,000 wounded since the war began, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

It added that at least 127 Palestinians have been killed and 205 others injured in the past 24 hours.

Despite the continued fighting in Gaza, efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas have been taking place in Cairo in recent days – although Qatari mediators said recent progress was “not very promising”.

“The pattern in the last few days [is] not really very promising but, as I always repeat, we will always remain optimistic and will always remain pushing,” said Sheik Mohammed, speaking at a meeting of world leaders at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he sent negotiators following a request from US President Joe Biden, but added they did not return for further discussions because Hamas’s demands were “delusional”.

Hamas has blamed Israel for a lack of progress in achieving a ceasefire deal.

The group has laid out a series of conditions, including the exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners, full withdrawal of Israel’s forces and an end to the war after a 135-day pause in fighting, broken into three phases.

Mr Netanyahu has also reiterated the Israeli government is continuing to push its ground invasion of Gaza further south, taking in the area of Rafah, despite international pressure not to do so without first having a plan to evacuate Palestinian civilians who fled there during the early days of the war.

Some 1.5 million people are in Rafah, close to the border with Egypt, after being told by Israeli forces to seek safety there while Hamas targets were attacked in northern, then central, Gaza.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday reiterated his opposition to any forced displacement of Palestinians into Egypt’s Sinai desert.

In a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron, both leaders agreed instead on the “necessity of the swift advancement of a ceasefire”, according to a summary.

Mr Sisi has long maintained that the only solution is an independent state for Palestinians.

However, on Sunday, Mr Netanyahu announced that his government had unanimously voted to formally oppose what it called the “unilateral recognition” of Palestinian statehood.

He said any such agreement must be reached through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

“Israel rejects outright international dictates regarding a permanent accord with the Palestinians. An accord, should it be reached, will only come through direct negotiations between the sides, without preconditions,” a government statement said.

‘Without painkillers, we leave patients to scream for hours’

Doctors across Gaza have described operating on patients without anaesthetic, turning people with chronic conditions away, and treating rotting wounds with limited medical supplies.

“Because of the shortage of painkillers we leave patients to scream for hours and hours,” one told the BBC.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has described the state of healthcare in Gaza as being “beyond words”.

It said 23 hospitals in Gaza were not functioning at all as of Sunday – 12 were partially functioning and one minimally.

The health agency said air strikes and a lack of supplies have “depleted an already under-resourced system”.

  • WHO says Nasser hospital, raided by IDF, not functional

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) says Hamas “systematically uses hospitals and medical centres for its terror activities”.

In a statement to the BBC, it said the IDF “did not ‘attack’ hospitals, but rather entered specific areas… [to] neutralise Hamas’ infrastructure and equipment, and apprehend Hamas terrorists, while acting with great caution”.

It said it was allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza, including medical supplies.

Aid organisations, including the WHO, say there have been “repeated access restrictions and denials”.

Warning: This article contains details some readers may find upsetting

Hospitals stretched

Many of Gaza’s hospitals are overcrowded and have limited equipment, healthcare workers say. There are reports that some hospitals in southern Gaza are operating at over 300% of their bed capacity.

Four field hospitals have been set up in Gaza, with 305 beds combined, according to the WHO.

On Sunday, it said the Nasser hospital in southern Gaza was the latest facility to become non-operational, following a raid by Israeli forces.

The IDF said on Sunday night it had found weapons at the hospital, as well as medicines with the names and photos of hostages on them, and had apprehended “hundreds of terrorists” hiding there. “Hamas continues to put Gaza’s most vulnerable citizens in serious danger by cynically using hospitals for terror,” it earlier told the BBC.

  • Why are Israel and Hamas fighting in Gaza?
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Staff at nearby hospitals say the operation at Nasser has put extra strain on them.

Yousef al-Akkad, director of the Gaza European Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis, described the current situation there as the “worst we’ve faced since the beginning of the war”.

“This situation was severe before, so what do you think it’s like after receiving thousands more who’ve been displaced and are now staying in the hallways and the public areas?”

He said the hospital did not have enough beds for the patients needing treatment, so staff were laying sheets over metal frames and wood, and putting “a lot of patients on the floor with nothing at all”.

Other doctors from across the Gaza Strip described similar situations. “Even if there is somebody with cardiac arrest or cardiac problems, we put them on the floor and start to work on them,” said Dr Marwan al-Hams, director of Rafah’s Martyr Mohammed Yusuf al-Najjar Hospital.

A Hamas political committee appoints directors of public hospitals in Gaza. In some cases, these directors were in place before Hamas took control of the Strip.

Medication and supplies

Doctors say they are struggling to work with limited medical supplies. “We cannot find a drop of oxygen,” one told the BBC.

“We’re missing anaesthetics, supplies for the ICU, antibiotics and lastly painkillers,” said Dr al-Akkad. “There are a lot of people who were severely burnt… we don’t have any suitable painkillers for them.”

One doctor confirmed that operations were going ahead without anaesthetic.

A WHO team said they recently met a seven-year-old girl at the European Gaza hospital who was suffering from 75% burns, but unable to receive pain relief because of short supplies.

Dr Mohamed Salha, acting director of northern Gaza’s Al-Awda hospital, said people had been transported for treatment there on donkeys and horses.

“The catastrophe is when the patients’ wounds are rotting, as the wounds have been open for more than two or three weeks,” he said.

He said doctors there had performed surgeries by the light of headtorches because of electricity shortages.

Staff separated from families

The WHO says there are around 20,000 healthcare workers in Gaza, but that most are not working “as they are struggling to survive and care for their families”.

Dr al-Akkad said the numbers of staff and volunteers at his hospital had grown, partly because of people displaced from other areas coming to help. But he said it was not enough to cope with the volume of patients and types of injuries they were receiving.

Following bombings, he said injured people come to the hospital “looking like kofta” – a dish with ground meat.

“The same person comes with brain injuries, broken ribs, broken limbs, and sometimes losing an eye… every injury you can imagine, you can see it in our hospital.”

He said one patient could need five or more specialist doctors to deal with the range of injuries.

Some of the doctors who have continued working are separated from their families.

“My family has been away from me for more than three months and I long to embrace them,” said Dr Salha in northern Gaza, whose family have sought safety in the south.

“My consolation is that I am here serving children, women and the elderly in receiving health care and saving their lives.”

No room for chronic patients

Doctors told the BBC that people in Gaza with chronic conditions had “paid a big price”.

“Frankly we don’t have any beds for them or any potential to follow up with them,” said Dr al-Akkad.

“For anybody who does dialysis four times a week, now he does it once a week. If this guy was doing 16 hours a week, it will be one hour now.”

Some women are giving birth in tents with no medical support, while hospitals that provide midwifery services say they have limited capacity.

“In one department a person dies and in the other department a new life is born. Children are born and there is no milk for them. The hospital provides one box of milk for every child,” Dr Salha said.

People are coming to hospitals with diseases that have spread in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.

“There are sicknesses and we can not find any cure,” said 54-year-old Abu Khalil, who has been displaced to Rafah in southern Gaza.

“We need to go out from dawn and get in a queue and maybe you will find 100 people in front of you. You go back empty handed.”

Additional reporting by Muath Al Khatib

Israel condemns Lula likening Gaza war to Holocaust

Israel has condemned Brazil’s president after he accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza, comparing its actions to the Holocaust.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said Israel’s military campaign was between a “highly prepared army and women and children”.

Israel accused Lula of trivialising the Holocaust and says it is fighting to destroy Hamas and return hostages taken by the militant group on 7 October.

The main Jewish organisation in Brazil has also criticised Lula’s comments.

Speaking from an African Union summit in Ethiopia, Lula said: “What is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people has no parallel in other historical moments. In fact, it did exist when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.

“It’s not a war of soldiers against soldiers. It’s a war between a highly prepared army and women and children.”

The veteran left-wing politician condemned Hamas after its gunmen killed at least 1,200 people and seized 253 hostages in a surprise attack on Israel on 7 October.

But he has since been vocally critical of Israel’s retaliatory military campaign, which the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says has killed more than 28,800 people, mainly women and children.

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His latest comments come after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to press ahead with an offensive in Rafah – the southern-most Gazan city where some 1.5 million people have fled – in the face of increasing international pressure.

Mr Netanyahu said Lula’s remarks amounted to “Holocaust trivialisation and an attempt to harm the Jewish people and the right of Israel to defend itself”.

“The comparison between Israel to the Holocaust of the Nazis and Hitler is crossing a red line,” he said in a statement.

Six million Jewish people were systematically murdered by Hitler’s Nazi regime during the 1930s and 1940s.

Israel has summoned the Brazilian ambassador for a meeting on Monday.

The Brazilian Israelite Confederation said Lula’s remarks were a “perverse distortion of reality” which “offend the memory of Holocaust victims and their descendants”.

Lula endorsed South Africa’s case of genocide brought against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) last year.

Judges at the ICJ ruled in January that South Africa’s case against Israel could proceed.

The court instructed Israel to prevent its military from committing acts which might be considered genocidal, to prevent and punish incitement to genocide, and to enable humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.

But the court stopped short of calling on Israel to immediately halt its military operations in Gaza.

Brazil and South Africa are members of the Brics group of countries – an alliance of some of the world’s most important developing economies brought together to challenge wealthier Western nations.

On the ground in Gaza, the World Health Organization has said the territory’s Nasser hospital has ceased to function following an Israeli raid. The IDF said its operation was “precise and limited” and accused Hamas of “cynically using hospitals for terror”.

Meanwhile, efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas have been taking place in Cairo, though Qatar mediators said recent progress was “not very promising”.

Early Hojlund double seals Man Utd win at Luton

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‘Oppenhomies’ Murphy and Downey Jr scoop Baftas

Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr and director Christopher Nolan were all honoured for their work on Oppenheimer as the film dominated the Bafta Awards.

Murphy was named best actor for playing J Robert Oppenheimer, known as the father of the atomic bomb, while Downey Jr won best supporting actor.

The drama won seven Baftas including best film. Poor Things picked up five, including best actress for Emma Stone.

Best supporting actress went to Da’Vine Joy Randolph for The Holdovers.

Oppenheimer and the acting winners could well repeat their successes at the Oscars in three weeks – although Oscar and Bafta voters rarely totally agree.

In a surprise appearance, Michael J Fox announced Oppenheimer as the winner of best film, the top prize at Sunday’s ceremony. The 62-year-old, who has had Parkinson’s disease for more than 30 years, received a standing ovation from the audience.

After winning the first Bafta of his career, Murphy told the ceremony: “Oh boy. Holy moly. Thank you very, very much Bafta.”

The Irish actor paid tribute to his “Oppenhomies” and praised Nolan, adding: “Thank for always pushing me and demanding excellence because that is what you deliver time and time again.”

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It was the British director’s first Bafta win, too, following a career that has also encompassed Dunkirk, Inception and The Dark Knight.

Nolan thanked a cast led by the “peerless and fearless Cillian Murphy” and also acknowledged the film’s backers “for taking on something dark”.

Downey Jr’s win came 31 years after his previous Bafta victory, for the 1993 film Chaplin – a new record for the longest gap between wins by any performer. He is now also known as Tony Stark/Iron Man in a string of Marvel films.

The actor, who played Oppenheimer’s adversary Lewis Strauss, thanked Nolan, telling the audience: “Recently that dude suggested I attempt an understated approach as a last-ditch effort to resurrect my dwindling credibility.”

Stone picked up her second career Bafta, recognised for playing a British woman who is reanimated after being given the brain of a baby in steampunk fantasy Poor Things.

Meanwhile, Randolph was rewarded for playing Mary, the head of a school kitchen and a grieving mother in The Holdovers, about the staff and pupils who stay in a US boarding school during the Christmas holidays in 1970.

In her acceptance speech, she became emotional as she paid tribute to “countless Marys throughout history, who have never got a chance to wear a beautiful gown and stand on this stage in London”.

The US actress added: “Telling her story is a responsibility that I do not take lightly.” The Holdovers also won best casting.

This was the second year in a row that no Britons won any of the four acting prizes at the most prestigious night in the British film calendar.

The award for best British film went to The Zone of Interest, about the concentration camp commander and his family who lived outside the walls of Auschwitz during World War Two.

The drama – made by British director Jonathan Glazer, filmed in Poland and acted mainly in German – also won best film not in the English language and best sound.

Meanwhile, history was made when The Boy and the Heron, made by legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki, became the first Japanese production to win best animated film.

The two awards for best screenplay went to suspenseful French courtroom drama Anatomy of a Fall and American Fiction, a satire about a US novelist who is dismayed when his spoof of the “black genre” of books becomes a runaway hit.

Former Doctor Who star David Tennant hosted the ceremony in a kilt, referring to box office blockbuster Barbie in his opening monologue, joking that the ceremony was “going to go smoother than Ken’s chest”.

However, it didn’t go to plan for Barbie, which didn’t take home any awards despite being last year’s most successful box office film and having five Bafta nominations.

Other films that had multiple nominations but lost out on the night included Killers of the Flower Moon, Maestro, All of Us Strangers and Saltburn.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor was among the performers, continuing the remarkable resurgence of her 2001 hit Murder on the Dancefloor since it was used to soundtrack a scene in Saltburn in which Barry Keoghan dances naked around a stately home.

In a nod of the film, the dancers were intended to look like upper-class partygoers – but they were all fully-clothed.

The Prince of Wales, Bafta’s president, took his place among the Hollywood superstars in his first high-profile royal engagement since his wife Kate’s recent operation.

Watch the Bafta Awards ceremony on BBC iPlayer.