WHO: Israel’s evacuation orders to hospitals in northern Gaza a death sentence for the sick, injured

The World Health Organisation (WHO) strongly condemns Israel’s repeated orders for the evacuation of 22 hospitals treating over 2,000 inpatients in northern Gaza.

The forced evacuation of patients and health workers will further worsen the current humanitarian and public health catastrophe.

In a statement, WHO said the lives of many critically ill and fragile patients hang in the balance: those in intensive care or who rely on life support; patients undergoing hemodialysis; newborns in incubators; women with complications of pregnancy, and others all face imminent deterioration of their condition or death if they are forced to move and are cut off from life-saving medical attention while being evacuated.

“Health facilities in northern Gaza continue to receive an influx of injured patients and are struggling to operate beyond maximum capacity. Some patients are being treated in corridors and outdoors in surrounding streets due to a lack of hospital beds.

“Forcing more than 2,000 patients to relocate to southern Gaza, where health facilities are already running at maximum capacity and unable to absorb a dramatic rise in the number patients, could be tantamount to a death sentence,” the statement read.

It added that hospital directors and health workers are now facing an agonising choice – abandon critically ill patients amid a bombing campaign, put their own lives at risk while remaining on site to treat patients, or endanger their patients’ lives while attempting to transport them to facilities that have no capacity to receive them.

“Overwhelmingly, caregivers have chosen to stay behind, and honour their oaths as health professionals to “do no harm,” rather than risk moving their critically ill patients during evacuations. Health workers should never have to make such impossible choices.

“Additionally, tens of thousands of displaced people in northern Gaza are seeking refuge in open spaces in or around hospitals, treating them as havens from violence as well as to protect the facilities from potential attacks. Their lives, too, are at risk when health facilities are bombed.”

WHO said there were verified reports of deaths of health care workers and destruction of health facilities, which denied civilians the basic human right of life-saving health care and is prohibited under International Humanitarian Law.

“WHO calls for Israel to immediately reverse evacuation orders to hospitals in northern Gaza, and calls for the protection of health facilities, health workers, patients, and civilians.

“WHO also reiterates its calls for the immediate and safe delivery of medical supplies, fuel, clean water, food, and other humanitarian aid into Gaza through the Rafah crossing, where life-saving assistance – including WHO health supplies that arrived earlier today – is currently awaiting entry,” the international body added.

IDF continues to urge people in Gaza to evacuate

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has once again called on the people of Gaza to move to southern Gaza for “for their safety”.

In a latest video uploaded on X (formerly known as Twitter) this morning, IDF international spokesperson, Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said: “Our war is not with the people of Gaza. In stark contrast to Hamas’ war crimes, Hamas’ crimes against humanity, we are calling on the residents of Gaza City to evacuate southwards for their own safety.”

“Not just because it is international law, because it’s our values, our morals and we demand no less. Our warnings are to save Gazan civilians,” added Hecht.

Hamas launched an attack on Israel soil on Oct 7, killing some 1,300 people. The war continued as over 2,000 people were killed in Gaza and the conflict is expected to escalate as Israeli troops prepare for a ground assault in the Gaza Strip.