President Biden Urges Protection of Hospitals in Gaza amid Escalating Conflict

President Joe Biden called on Israel to protect the Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical facility in the Gaza Strip, as intense fighting continues between Israeli forces and Hamas around this complex.

Addressing reporters in the Oval Office on Monday, Biden expressed concern about the situation, stating, "The hospital should be protected," as reported by the French news agency. He added, "Efforts are being made to use the ceasefire to deal with the release of hostages," noting ongoing negotiations with Qatar on this matter.

In response, the White House stated on Monday that Israel shares the perspective of President Biden's administration regarding the imperative to avoid battles in Gaza's hospitals. Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor at the White House, emphasized that the Israeli government has affirmed its readiness to provide fuel to hospitals to ensure their continued operation.

Sullivan reiterated Washington's commitment to rescuing hostages held by Hamas, emphasizing the need for additional humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering of civilians in Gaza. "The United States continues discussions with Israel on the importance of reaching a tactical humanitarian ceasefire," Sullivan stated. He further emphasized, "Hospitals in Gaza must be able to operate to provide medical care to patients. We have told the Israeli government that we do not want any fighting in hospitals."

Israeli tanks were positioned at the gates of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Monday, which has become a primary target in the battle for control of the northern half of the sector. Health officials reported that patients, including newborns, are dying due to fuel shortages. The spokesperson for the Ministry of Health in Gaza, Ashraf al-Qudra, stated from inside the hospital that 32 patients, including three newborns, have died in the past three days due to the hospital's siege and power outages.

At least 650 patients inside the hospital are feeling desperate as evacuation to another medical facility, whether by the Red Cross or any other neutral agency, seems impossible. Israel claims that the hospital is located above tunnels housing Hamas fighters who use patients as human shields, an allegation denied by Hamas.

Dr. Ahmed Al-Makhlata, a surgeon at the hospital, expressed the dire situation, saying, "Tanks are in front of the hospital. We are under a comprehensive siege. This is a completely civilian area. There are only hospital facilities, patients, doctors, and civilians residing in the hospital. Someone (in authority) must end this situation." He added, "They targeted water tanks, wells, and the oxygen pump. They bombed everything in the hospital."

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