Israel-Hamas War: Blinken's Mission in Israel: Conveying Both Criticism and Support

Arriving in the Middle East as the U.S. stance has shifted, the secretary of state is expected to push Prime Minister Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for 'humanitarian pauses' in military…

Israel-Hamas War: Blinken's Mission in Israel: Conveying Both Criticism and Support

Days of Israeli airstrikes have caused extensive destruction in Gaza's Jabaliya neighbourhood.


Mohammed Saber/EPA, via Shutterstock

Israeli airstrikes pounded the Jabaliya neighbourhood north of Gaza City for a third day in a row on Thursday. Doctors treating victims described nightmare scenes of operating with no basic supplies or anesthesia.

Dr. Hussam Abd Safyia is the director of pediatrics at the hospital

Kamal Adwan Hospital

The majority of people who arrived at the hospital, where the Jabaliya attacks left many casualties, were children. Many had severe burns or missing limbs.

On Tuesday, after

First strike in Jabaliya

He said that the hospital had received around 40 dead people and 250 wounded. On Wednesday, the numbers were almost identical.

Another strike has been made

A strike on Thursday damaged an UN school that was being used as shelter, and sent another wave of patients in: 10 people were killed and 80 more injured.

Dr. Abu Safyia told a reporter by phone on Thursday that he had never seen such severe injuries. He added, "We saw children with no heads."

UNRWA, the U.N. agency that runs the school and houses Palestinian refugees, has confirmed that four shelters, housing a total of nearly 20,000 Palestinians, were damaged within the last 24 hours. The agency reported that twenty people had been killed in the shelter at Jabaliya, as well as three others who were killed during other attacks at the Shati or Bureij camps.

After an Israeli attack on a United Nations shelter, a girl was treated at the Kamal Adwan Hospital on Thursday.


Abdul Qader Sabbah/Associated Press

Israeli officials claimed that the Israeli military had targeted Hamas leaders in Jabaliya in order to punish them for their key role in the Oct. 7 attacks, which killed over 1,400 people according to Israeli officials. The Israeli military said Hamas also had an extensive network of tunnels in Jabaliya.

On Wednesday, Dr. Abu Safyia told us, he and a colleague were working in the neonatal intensive care unit of the hospital -- one out of two units still with power despite a severe fuel crisis -- when Jabaliya casualties began to arrive.

He said that when they went to the emergency room, his colleague was shocked to find out that two of her children had been killed. He said that her 9-year old and 7-year old children, as well as several of their siblings and family members, were killed at home.

He said: 'We work in a place that we can expect at any time our children, spouses or siblings to arrive in pieces.

He said that some children were unable to be identified due to the severity of their wounds. The morgue at the hospital was so crowded that people stacked bodies on top of each other.

It is easier to die than witness the horrifying scenes we are seeing.

Later, he added: "Live images of people being blown into pieces are broadcast to the entire world, including women and children being murdered. For what?" What did they do?

He said that the hospital in Beit Lahia (just north of Jabaliya) was also running low on supplies. Doctors were using paracetamol and other over-the counter painkillers to ease severe pain in patients with severe injuries, as there was no anesthesia. The doctor said that they had limited antibiotics and used vinegar and chlorine for wound disinfection.

Dr. Abu Safyia stated that the screams of children during surgery could be heard outside. "We operate on skulls of people without anesthesia."

After an Israeli airstrike on the Gaza Strip, smoke rose.


Avishag Yashuv for The New York Times

He said that doctors and nurses used the flashlights in their phones to work in the darkness because the generators of the hospital were unable to power more than two departments - the neonatal intensive care unit and the pediatric ER, where twelve children are on ventilators. He added that if the fuel runs low, "the hospital will become a mass grave."

At a press conference held at Al-Shifa Hospital, Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra (a spokesperson for Hamas-run Gazan Health Ministry) had described the increasing death toll by holding up the shrouded body of a child.

Since Israel began its relentless bombardment on Gaza, the ministry reported that over 9,000 people have been killed including more than 3,300 children. Many more are still missing or buried beneath the rubble.

Dr. Ghassan Ab-Sittah is a British-Palestinian volunteer plastic surgeon at Shifa’s burn treatment unit. He said that the hospital, the largest in Gaza, had treated about 70 Jabaliya-related patients since Tuesday. Many of them had nowhere to go.

He said that medical workers were stretched to breaking point and deaths which would have been prevented had started to rise. He said that each surgery had become a difficult exercise in trying to use as few resources as possible.

On Wednesday, the victim's body was carried in Jabaliya.


Mohammed Saber/EPA, via Shutterstock

Gaza's Health Ministry reported that 16 of 35 hospitals were out of commission due to damage or lack power. The Shifa maternity ward is being used for the treatment of the wounded. Expectant mothers have been transferred to Al-Hilo Hospital which was damaged on Wednesday night by the bombardment, according to the Ministry.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that communications with Gaza City were spotty or nonexistent on Friday, following a Wednesday blackout which left ambulances and emergency workers unable find the injured.

Ahmad Sardah of Jabaliya, who claimed that his home was damaged by Wednesday's strike, was able send a message in a brief moment of internet connectivity before the contact was lost.

He said that the situation in his neighborhood was "tragic".

In a post on Facebook he wrote on Thursday, he said: "If only our friends and family outside could tell us about what's going on instead of asking how we're doing. Because without internet or phone lines, we can hear nothing but airstrikes, bombs, and gunfire." How, where, and by whom? No one knows.

Dr. Ghassan Khatib, political scientist at Birzeit University, in the occupied West Bank said that Jabaliya - both the name and location of the town, as well as the refugee camp adjacent to it - had a longstanding reputation of being a stronghold for resistance against Israeli occupation.

On Thursday, there was a power outage at Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.


Yousef Maoud for The New York Times

He said that the first intifada began there when camp residents were struck by Israeli vehicles. He said that their funerals turned into demonstrations which spread to the Balata Refugee Camp in Nablus, West Bank and other places.

In an online briefing on Thursday, Tamara Alrifai of UNRWA said that UNRWA believed that approximately 30,000 residents of Jabaliya's 116,000 residents remained following Israel's evacuation order under threat of bombing last month. Uncertain whether all of them had gone south as instructed or to other parts of northern Gaza.

In the hope of a better chance at safety, people from all over Gaza have been flocking to hospitals. More than 3,000 people are also housed at the Kamal Adwan Hospital. Dr. Abu Safyia, who is barely sleeping, is one of them. He said that he would sometimes go into an empty room and close the door, then sob.

He said, 'These were people who had dreams. They had lives. They had a future.' It all ended.

Euan Ward, Abu Bakr Bashir and others contributed to the reporting.


Hiba Yazbek

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