A video taken in an abandoned Gaza hospital appears to show the decomposing bodies of babies who were left behind during evacuations.
The paediatric intensive care unit at al Nasr children’s hospital was evacuated around 10 November as the Israeli military continued its ground invasion into northern Gaza and called for people to leave the area.
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During the week-long ceasefire, Mohammed Baalousha, a journalist with the Emirati TV channel Al Mashhad, entered the building where he found the bodies of several infants who had to be left in their beds while others escaped.
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Filmed around two weeks after the hospital was emptied, footage from the channel appeared to show at least three of five dead infants, according to Sky News’ US partner site NBC.
Their bodies were decaying, including one that had insects appearing to crawl over its chest.
All are near catheters and ventilators and one infant appeared to still be connected to a machine that measures the oxygen levels in blood, with tanks of the gas nearby, NBC reported.
Image: Pic: Mohamed Baalousha, Al Mashhad reporter in Gaza
The advanced stages of decomposition of the infants are consistent with the timeframe between them being abandoned and the date the video was shot, two independent forensic pathologists told NBC.
The US broadcaster was unable to verify the status of the infants within this two-week period.
Dr Mustafa al Kahlot, director of the hospital, said staff concluded they could not safely evacuate five babies, several of whom were premature and “on oxygen machines” when Israeli tanks encircled the facility.
“Our evacuation from al Nasr hospital was very difficult and under fire,” he told NBC News. “Children cannot be carried by hand or evacuated without oxygen equipment.”
In footage taken before the evacuation, Dr al Kahlot is seen in the same hospital room, warning that the building was the target of bombings, and that one child had already died due to a “lack of oxygen”.
A similar situation was faced at al Shifa hospital – one of Gaza’s largest – which came under intense bombardment by Israeli forces.
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Premature babies arrive in Egypt from Gaza
A group of 28 premature babies who were described as having “serious infections” were transported from Gaza to a hospital in Egypt, where they continued to receive treatment.
One nurse, who works with the charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), was voluntarily working at al Nasr hospital at the time it was evacuated.
‘We only took one baby’
An audio recording he took on 10 November described a “sniper shooting” making it impossible for anyone to leave or move from the building, NBC reported.
“Five patients remained in the intensive care unit on the oxygen machine,” he is heard saying in the recording. “We left them. We only took one baby.”
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“We had to leave patients on the beds. We could not take any patient with us,” the same nurse said in a separate video taken within this timeframe and seen by NBC.
Ashraf al Qudra, a spokesperson for the Gaza health ministry, said medical teams could not evacuate the five children by hand as there must be “health standards for transporting them”.
He told NBC that he blamed the Israeli military for the infants’ deaths.
Image: Premature babies were evacuated from al Shifa hospital
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was not involved in any evacuation operations, despite receiving “several requests” for help from hospitals in northern Gaza.
“Footage circulating of deceased newborn babies represents an unspeakable tragedy, an unacceptable reality of how civilians – including babies and children – pay the price in conflict,” the ICRC said in a statement.
In response to the claims, the Israel Defence Forces said “it did not operate inside the al Nasr hospital,” and that “these allegations are not only false but also a perverse exploitation of innocent lives, used as tools to spread dangerous misinformation”.
“This is more evident when taking into account that the IDF assisted in moving newborns from the pediatric ward of the Shifa hospital to safety, as well as provide Israeli incubators in the process,” the statement added.
Source : Sky News