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Hospital in northern Gaza besieged – Norwegian health team evacuated by the UN

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The Norwegian health team from Norwac was at the Al-Awda hospital in Jabalia, but was evacuated and is now at the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Younis. Front: Einar Gunnarson, Hilde Rinnan Vollan, Mohammad Abou-Arab and Khalaf Mreihil. Photo: Norwac / NTB

Of NTB | 23.05.2024 19:10:21

Working life: – The soldiers are in the hospital’s courtyard and in the surrounding houses. There is continuous shooting with rifles and grenade launchers. The soldiers stormed the hospital’s main building on Wednesday evening, Mohammad Saleh, acting hospital director, told the AFP news agency.

The employees were forced to flee, and the hospital is now run very provisionally by 13 employees. There are only 11 patients left, as well as two women accompanying minor children.

The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Thursday on X that there were 140 employees, patients and attendants at the hospital when the soldiers stormed in. Al-Awda Hospital is located in Jabalia in northern Gaza.

Kristil Haraldstad, Norwac’s country manager for Palestine, tells NTB that the Norwegian personnel were picked up by a UN convoy six days ago. They are now at the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip.

– The situation in the north of the Gaza Strip now is absolutely horrible. Northern Gaza is under constant bombardment. Our team didn’t really want to be evacuated, but it wasn’t safe to stay, says Haraldstad.

She states that the Norwegian health personnel are fine in the circumstances, and that no one is injured. Several of them originally finished their time in the Gaza Strip, but continue to work at the hospital in Khan Younis.

The situation makes it difficult to get out of the Gaza Strip, where there are fierce battles between Israeli forces and armed Palestinians, also in Rafah on the border with Egypt.

In Geneva, the WHO chief said on Thursday that only two hospitals are operating in the north of the Gaza Strip, including the Al-Awda hospital. On Tuesday, patients and staff had to evacuate the second – Kamal Adwan hospital, according to director Hossam Abu Safia.

Israel claims that Hamas uses the hospital’s grounds to plan and carry out attacks against Israeli soldiers, a claim Hamas rejects.

A Norwegian health team from Norwac has been working at the hospital since April.

The WHO visited Al-Awda regularly in April to deliver food and fuel, but earlier this week WHO chief Ghebreyesus said snipers had taken up positions around the hospital and artillery had hit the fifth floor.

(© NTB)

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