Ambulances, yellow cabs and cars scream up to the entrance of Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza in a nonstop convoy, rushing in both broken and lifeless bodies.
Inside, hospital staff scramble to treat the wounded who are crammed into corridors that are also filled with people who fled their homes and are seeking refuge. The harrowing scenes have been playing out on a seemingly endless loop at Al Shifa Hospital since Saturday, when Hamas, the group that controls the strip, launched a deadly assault on Israel — and Israel’s military retaliated with punishing airstrikes on the blockaded enclave.
Al Shifa Hospital is the Gaza Strip’s largest medical complex. Many of the limestone villas and high-rise buildings surrounding the hospital in its affluent Gaza City neighborhood of Al Rimal have been reduced to piles of rubble and concrete. The Israeli Army claims that the neighborhood is a financial hub for Hamas, making it a target of airstrikes.
In addition to the aerial assault unleashed on the 140-square-mile Gaza Strip — of a magnitude and intensity not seen in past assaults on the blockaded territory — Israel has said it is blocking water, electricity and fuel from entering the enclave, contributing to the shutdown of the territory’s only power station. That has left already overwhelmed hospitals dependent on generators with a dwindling supply of a few days’ fuel.
The director of Al Shifa Hospital, Dr. Muhammad Abu Salima, told The New York Times on Wednesday that the facility was operating well over its capacity of 500 beds and had enough fuel to power its generators for another four days.
In the meantime, families, friends and rescue workers continue to stream into the hospital with the wounded. Some carry children, others wheel in adults on stretchers. Bloodied people waiting for treatment sit or lie on the hospital’s tile floor as medical workers race through the wards to help patients in need of more urgent care.
And more were expected to keep coming: At least 10 people were killed by an Israeli airstrike on the Shati refugee camp in Gaza on Thursday morning, according to the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa. Unverified video from the aftermath of the strike showed a gruesome scene covered in gray ash and dust, the bodies and wounded nearly indistinguishable from the rubble around them.
Outside the hospital’s morgue, bodies wrapped in white cloth line the sidewalk waiting to be identified or collected by loved ones. At least 1,417 Palestinians have been killed and 6,268 wounded since Saturday, according to the Gazan Health Ministry.