The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced Tuesday that it has launched a “humanitarian effort” to facilitate the transfer of incubators from a hospital in Israel to Al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip, where the IDF alleges Hamas has placed its headquarters underneath.
The move comes as the IDF says it “remains committed to upholding its moral and professional responsibilities to distinguish between civilians and Hamas terrorists.”
“The IDF is willing to work with any reliable mediating party to ensure the transfer of the incubators,” it said in a statement.
Israel said Tuesday that its main target in northern Gaza remains the Hamas headquarters it says is located beneath Al-Shifa Hospital — a claim the terrorist group denies. The IDF has surrounded the facility, which The Associated Press says is filled with hundreds of patients, medical staff and displaced people grappling with dwindling supplies and without electricity to run incubators and other equipment.
The IDF on Tuesday released audio of a phone call it says was between a senior officer from the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration – an agency that oversees activity at Israel-Gaza border crossing – and the hospital’s director.
“You told me today that you have a pediatric department, that you have children in there,” the officer says in the call.
“Premature babies, premature department,” the director purportedly responds.
“We are ready to provide you with any assistance if you wish to evacuate the children and the patients. We’ll even provide you with an incubator and I’ll put it at the gate of the hospital. Does that help?” the officer then asks.
“Yes, it helps,” the director replies.
The Hamas-run Palestinian Ministry of Health says 40 patients, including three babies, have died since the hospital’s emergency generator ran out of fuel Saturday. Israel’s military said it placed fuel several blocks from Al-Shifa, but Hamas militants prevented staff from reaching it — an allegation the ministry denied, saying instead it was too dangerous for staff to venture out.
Christian Lindmeier, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, also told the AP on Tuesday that Israel’s offer to deliver incubators to the hospital would be useless without electricity and that the only way to save the newborns was to move them out of Gaza.
Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said it has proposed evacuating the hospital with the supervision of the International Committee of the Red Cross and transferring the patients to hospitals in Egypt but has not received any response, the AP reported. He said 120 bodies will be buried in a mass grave inside the hospital because they are unable to safely transport them to cemeteries.
Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom and The Associated Press contributed to this report.