Nearly 30 premature babies born into the warzone of Gaza have been safely evacuated to Egypt after Israel helped the infants cross the border at Rafa. In footage shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, the infants can be seen being moved inside their incubators from the Al-Shifa Hospital into emergency vehicles for the one-hour-long trip south from Gaza City. A fleet of ambulances can be seen under the watchful eye of the UN and Israeli Defense Forces carrying out the vital operation across the border at Rafa to hospitals in Egypt.
Some were also transported by air from Al Arish Airport. In a status shared online, the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories account wrote: ‘For the past several hours, we’ve been facilitating the transfer of Gazan premature babies from the Shifaa hospital for further medical treatment in Egypt. ‘This is done as part of the humanitarian efforts driven by Israel concurrently with the fight against Hamas in Gaza’.
According to officials in Egypt, only 29 babies have arrived so far and it was not immediately clear why the number differed. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that ‘five babies had died in the hospital due to power cuts’ and that their bodies were also taken away. One mother, Lubna El-Seik, said Egypt was the ‘best place on earth’ and praised the coordinated evacuation as ‘very good’.
‘It never occurred to us that the hospital would be targeted and that those children would have to go through what they went through’, she said. ‘Within hours, we came over here and we were well received’. Families and staff were also evacuated from the hospital.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (UNCHA) said 259 patients had remained behind at the Al Shifa, which Israel has claimed is a hiding place for a Hamas operation center. In a statement, Israel said: ‘Over the last day, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] … helped facilitate the safe evacuation of new-born Gazan babies from the pediatric ward of Shifa Hospital to receive essential medical treatment in Egypt.
‘The coordination of this vital mission was at the request of Egypt and the director of the Shifa Hospital. ‘The evacuation was carried out by UN teams with the assistance of IDF teams on the ground’. It added that ‘Israeli incubators were provided to Shifa hospital for the babies’ in the rescue effort.
‘The IDF remains steadfast in its resolve to assist in the humanitarian efforts in Gaza and its commitment to upholding human dignity and providing aid in times of crisis’, it said. It comes as US President Joe Biden said he believes a deal to secure the release of hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza is near. Hamas captured more than 200 hostages in its devastating October 7 attack on Israel. U.S. and Qatari officials are pushing for a five-day pause in fighting to allow at least 50 women and children to be released. More releases would then follow.
Hamas terrorists killed at least 1,200 during their attack, the bloodiest day in Israel’s 75-year history. Since then Israel has kept up an intense bombardment of Gaza. The Hamas-controlled health ministry says at least 13,000 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 5,500 children. The families of hostages were due to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday evening to discuss the latest developments. He has been criticized for being slow in securing their release.
Prior to the meeting, a spokesperson for the families said: ‘It’s been six weeks and two days that our beloved ones are in Gaza. We don’t know how they feel, if they are healthy, if they are alive we have no information, zero information. ‘It’s raining, it’s cold now and we don’t know what is the situation with the hostages, we came today to talk to the war cabinet and get answers for our questions.
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