Israeli military says it will help evacuate babies trapped in Gaza's Al Shifa Hospital

People stand outside the emergency ward of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on November 10 (AFP via Getty Images)
People stand outside the emergency ward of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on November 10 (AFP via Getty Images)

The Israeli military announced that it will help evacuate babies trapped in Gaza's main hospital, as battles continue nearby.

Chief Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told a press conference: "The staff of the Shifa hospital has requested that tomorrow we help the babies in the pediatric department to get to a safer hospital. We will provide the assistance needed."

Shifa Hospital director Mohammed Abu Selmia said the facility lost power on Saturday.

Frantic doctors said the last generator had run out of fuel, reportedly causing the death of a premature baby and four other patients.

Mr Abu Selmia said: "Medical devices stopped. Patients, especially those in intensive care, started to die."

He spoke to the media over the phone, with gunfire and explosions in the background.

In recent days, fighting near Shifa and other hospitals in northern Gaza has intensified and supplies have run out. The Israeli military has alleged that the militant group Hamas has established command posts in and underneath hospitals, using civilians as human shields. Medical staff at Shifa have denied such claims and accused Israel of harming civilians with indiscriminate attacks.

An Israeli officer, Colonel Moshe Tetro, confirmed clashes outside the hospital but denied Shifa was under siege or direct attack. He said he was in touch with the director and had offered safe passage for those willing to leave through the hospital's east side.

Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, told broadcaster Channel 12 that as Israel aims to crush Hamas, taking control of the hospitals would be key but require "a lot of tactical creativity," without hurting patients, other civilians and Israeli hostages.

The "unbearably desperate situation" at Shifa must stop now, the director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Robert Mardini, said on social media.

Elsewhere, the Palestinian Red Crescent said Israeli tanks were 20 metres from al-Quds hospital in Gaza City's Tal al-Hawa neighborhood, causing "a state of extreme panic and fear" among the 14,000 displaced people sheltering there.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the responsibility for any harm to civilians lies with Hamas, repeating long-standing allegations that the militant group uses civilians in Gaza as human shields. He said that while Israel has urged civilians to leave combat zones, "Hamas is doing everything it can to prevent them from leaving."

His statement came after French President Emmanuel Macron pushed for a cease-fire and urged other leaders to join his call, telling the BBC there was "no justification" for Israel's ongoing bombing.

Israel's military has said soldiers have encountered hundreds of Hamas fighters in underground facilities, schools, mosques and clinics during fighting in Gaza. Israel has said a key goal of the war is to crush Hamas, a militant group that has ruled Gaza for 16 years.

Following Hamas' deadly October 7 attack on Israel, in which at least 1,200 people were killed, Israel's allies have defended the country's right to protect itself. But now into the second month of war, there are growing differences in how many feel Israel should conduct its fight.

The US has been pushing for temporary pauses that would allow for wider distribution of badly needed aid to civilians in the besieged territory where conditions are increasingly dire. However, Israel has only agreed to brief daily periods during which civilians can flee the area of ground combat in northern Gaza and head south on foot along the territory's main north-south artery.

Since these evacuation windows were first announced a week ago, more than 150,000 civilians have fled the north, according to U.N. monitors. On Saturday, the military announced a new evacuation window, saying civilians could use the central road and a coastal road.

On the main road, a stream of people fled southward, clutching children and bags, many on foot and some on donkey-drawn carts. One man pushed two children in a wheelbarrow.

"I am diabetic, and I have blood pressure issues. Where to go, and what do they want from us?" said Yehia al-Kafarnah, a resident fleeing south.