Gaza hospitals under fire

Ma’an News Agency, Jan. 5, 2009

Gaza/Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli forces fired in the immediate vicinity of three hospitals in the Gaza Strip on Monday, witnesses and medical personnel told Ma’an.

The Al-Wafa Hospital in eastern Gaza Strip received warning that they would be shelled, but the hospital administration and staff refused to evacuate on account of the number of injured being treated there.

Additionally, some of the wounded have been injured so severely that they cannot be safely transferred.

At Ash-Shifa Hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip, Israeli warplanes bombed offices of the Health Committees, about 400 meters from Ash-Shifa Hospital. Last week warplanes bombed the Ash-Shifa Mosque, which is part of the medical compound.

Israeli forces also shelled the parking lot of Al-Awda Hospital in Jabaliya, in northern Gaza.

A Spanish human rights worker at the hospital, Alberto Arce, reported, “Two consecutive shells just landed in the busy car park 15 meters from the entrance to the emergency room of the Al Awda Hospital."

"The entrance of the emergency room was damaged. At the time of the shelling, ambulances were bringing in the wounded that keep pouring in. Medical teams and facilities are being targeted. Nowhere is safe," he said.

On Sunday, at least three paramedics were killed by two consecutive Israeli attacks while they were attempting to rescue the wounded from an earlier strike.

The international aid agency Oxfam also reported that personnel working for its affiliates in Gaza were killed as their ambulances came under attack.

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