November 11, 2023

We are horrified to see the intensifying attacks on Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, the largest medical complex in the territory and a lifeline for families. In the last few hours, airstrikes have increased dramatically, putting the lives of 15,000 wounded patients, displaced people, and medical staff at grave risk. The situation at Al-Shifa is utterly heart-breaking; all medical work has stopped. There is no electricity and no food or water coming in. Children cannot be treated, and bodies cannot be buried.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, at least one of the newborn babies in incubators at the hospital has already died, while the lives of a further 39 hang in the balance.

Just days ago, Bisan, a humanitarian youth volunteer with ActionAid, sent a video update from the incubator department where she warned that without an urgent delivery of fuel the incubators would stop working. She said:

“These newborn babies could simply [die]… Because they need special care. These [babies] in incubators with an age of 42-45 weeks of pregnancy, days old, are [at] threat of [dying].”

See the full video here.

21 out of the 35 hospitals in Gaza are no longer operating, either due to being struck by bombs or having run out of fuel. ActionAid’s partner, Al-Awda, which runs a hospital in the north of Gaza and provides the area’s main maternity services, is among those still managing to treat patients. However, it is dangerously close to running out of fuel and suspending its operations.

Against a backdrop of constant bombardment and at immense personal risk, its dedicated staff are insisting on continuing to provide desperately needed healthcare for patients.

A senior doctor at Al-Awda Hospital sent us this voice note update on Friday:

I have been working here in the hospital for 32 days. I refuse completely to leave the hospital, and I am here with my staff to provide health services and health care for injured people and pregnant women because we are the pioneer in this area in providing reproductive health and maternity.

I’m feeling afraid, and I’m worried because my family, they are about 30 kilometers away from me and I cannot reach my family. I cannot contact my family for two weeks because there is no internet – there is no electricity in this area. And really, I don’t know, I cannot protect my family. I have three kids, my wife, and my mother.”

Riham Jafari, Advocacy and Communications Coordinator at ActionAid Palestine, said:

“For weeks and weeks, we have been warning that hospitals in Gaza are on the brink of collapse. For Al-Shifa Hospital, that moment of pure catastrophe has now arrived. This sanctuary for the ill and displaced is being shaken by bombing as the bodies of the dead pile up. Critically ill patients at the hospital cannot be moved, and even if they could, where would they go? Where is safe? The horror they are facing is unimaginable.

Hospitals must be safe havens, and we demand their protection and reiterate our calls for an immediate ceasefire to end the suffering of the people of Gaza.”


For media requests, please email or call 704 665 9743. 

The following spokesperson is available:  

  • Riham Jafari, Coordinator of Advocacy and Communication for ActionAid Palestine 
  • Soraida Hussein-Sabbah, Gender and Advocacy Specialist for ActionAid Spain, based in Ramallah, oPt. 

About ActionAid  

ActionAid is a global federation working with more than 15 million people living in more than 40 of the world’s poorest countries. We want to see a just, fair, and sustainable world in which everybody enjoys the right to a life of dignity and freedom from poverty and oppression. We work to achieve social justice and gender equality and to eradicate poverty. 

Support Palestinians in crisis

As the human rights of people in the occupied Palestinian territories continue to be abused, women and children are especially at risk. Gaza faces a dire lack of medical facilities, schools, and homes, as so many have been hit by Israeli airstrikes. ActionAid works in communities near the border with Israel that have been most directly affected by the violence. ActionAid's women-led response is supporting the most vulnerable and marginalized individuals and communities.