Decomposed bodies of infants were found in the evacuated ICU of Al-Nasr Hospital in Gaza, shedding light on the tragic aftermath of the conflict, CNN reported.
The distressing scene was captured on video by Mohamed Baalousha, a Gaza-based reporter, revealing the tiny bodies of babies, still attached to life-saving equipment in their beds. The footage, dated November 27, displayed the remains of at least four infants, some reduced to little more than skeletons.
The circumstances leading to this harrowing discovery are complex. Al-Nasr and Al-Rantisi children's hospitals, part of the same complex, became the battleground between Israeli and Hamas forces in early November. Hospital staff, under Israeli direction, hastily evacuated on November 10, leaving behind young children in the ICU who could not be safely moved, as reported by CNN.
Conflicting accounts emerged about the status of the infants at the time of evacuation. A doctor associated with the hospital reported that two children had died just before the evacuation, while three others, including a two-month-old, were left alive but without adequate care. The exact condition of the infants left behind remains uncertain.
Dr Mustafa al-Kahlout, head of both paediatric hospitals, highlighted the dire situation in a video on November 9, citing damage to the hospital and the cut-off of oxygen to the ICU. Despite pleas for intervention from international organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the hospital faced significant challenges, with ambulances unable to reach the facility amid ongoing hostilities.
An audio recording between a hospital official and an officer from COGAT, coordinating Israeli activities in the region, suggested an agreement for evacuation. However, ambulances purportedly never arrived, forcing families and hospital staff to evacuate independently. Reports indicate that Al-Nasr staff faced IDF instructions to leave within a short timeframe, walking out with white flags and vulnerable patients.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) vehemently denied responsibility for the infants' deaths, labelling the allegations as false and a distortion of facts. Questions persist about the failure of promised ambulances and awareness of infants left in the ICU. Despite IDF spokesman Doron Spielman dismissing the accounts as a "rumour" during an online Q&A, the circumstances surrounding the infants' fate remain a matter of contention.
The Gaza Ministry of Health, under Hamas control, accused the IDF of ordering the evacuation and falsely promising ICRC assistance. The ICRC clarified that it was not involved in any operations or evacuations due to the security situation.
The tragic footage, described as an "unspeakable tragedy" by the ICRC, has prompted calls for neutral entities to verify the use of hospitals for civilian and humanitarian purposes. Forensic analysis of the video suggested advanced decomposition of the infants in situ, raising questions about the circumstances and urgency of the evacuation, CNN reported.