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Gaza's largest remaining hospital is near collapse, Doctors Without Borders says

Relatives mourn over the bodies of people killed when the tent where they were sheltering was hit by Israeli bombardment, at the morgue of the Nasser medical center in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Jan. 4.
AFP via Getty Images
Relatives mourn over the bodies of people killed when the tent where they were sheltering was hit by Israeli bombardment, at the morgue of the Nasser medical center in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Jan. 4.

TEL AVIV, Israel — Doctors Without Borders says the largest remaining medical facility in the Gaza Strip, Nasser Hospital, is now unable to provide critical medical care.

The nonprofit medical organization said in a statement on Friday that there are now few places for those who need care in Khan Younis to go.

The Israeli army said on Tuesday that it had encircled Khan Younis, Gaza's second largest city, and was battling Hamas fighters. Israel intensified fighting this week and ordered the evacuation of everyone in certain neighborhoods,including the hospital.

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Nasser Hospital is one of the main medical facilitiesoperating in Khan Younis.Gaza's health ministry reported on Wednesday that no one was able to enter or exit because of bombardment.

The hospital was also sheltering thousands of displaced Palestinians who had escaped fighting elsewhere in Gaza. Doctors Without Borders, which also goes by its French acronym MSF, said many people including most of the hospital staff fled during the evacuation order. It said that almost 350 patients remain inside the hospital and are stuck because it's too dangerous to get out.

"These systematic attacks against health care are unacceptable and must end now so that the wounded can get the care they need," Guillemette Thomas, MSF's medical coordinator for Gaza and the West Bank, said in a statement.

MSF described doctors feeling helpless inside the hospital as they told of dire conditions such as a lack of beds and other basic supplies. One doctor quoted by MSF said doctors were squeezing out blood from gauze and sterilizing it to be reused.

Israel continues to escalate its assault in Gaza as a response to the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 that killed almost 1,200 people and saw some 250 others taken hostage. About 130 people are still in captivity in Gaza, according to Israel. Gaza's health ministry has reported that the number of Palestinians killed has topped 25,000.

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Hadeel Al-Shalchi
Hadeel al-Shalchi is an editor with Weekend Edition. Prior to joining NPR, Al-Shalchi was a Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press and covered the Arab Spring from Tunisia, Bahrain, Egypt, and Libya. In 2012, she joined Reuters as the Libya correspondent where she covered the country post-war and investigated the death of Ambassador Chris Stephens. Al-Shalchi also covered the front lines of Aleppo in 2012. She is fluent in Arabic.