At least 26 out of 35 hospitals in Gaza are either damaged or out of service.
The International Red Cross president travelled to Qatar on Monday and met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh to “advance humanitarian issues”.
The ever-evolving and alarming humanitarian situation in Gaza as a result of the relentless Israeli war since October 7 has so far killed over 13,300 Palestinians, including 5,600 children.
The Geneva-based organisation’s President Mirjana Spoljaric, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement on Monday, also met separately with Qatari authorities, who play a significant role as mediators in the ongoing war
The ICRC, as a “neutral humanitarian intermediary”, said that the meetings were part of broader conversations with all parties involved to push for compliance with international humanitarian law.
“The ICRC continues to appeal for the urgent protection of all victims in the conflict, and for the alleviation of the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip,” it said.
“The ICRC is calling for sustained, safe humanitarian access so it can increase its work.”
The statement went on to clarify that these discussions did not constitute negotiations aimed at securing the release of more than 200 hostages, who were taken by Hamas on October 7.
“The ICRC has persistently called for the immediate release of hostages. The ICRC is insisting that our teams be allowed to visit the hostages to check on their welfare and deliver medications, and for the hostages to be able to communicate with their families,” the organisation noted.
“Agreements must be reached that allow the ICRC to safely carry out this work. The ICRC cannot force its way into where hostages are held, nor do we know their location.”
However, “the ICRC does not take part in negotiations leading to the release of hostages,” it added.
It is worth noting that the humanitarian organisation did say that it stands prepared to assist in any future releases that the two sides involved in the war may mutually agree upon, “as ICRC staff have already done on two occasions.”
In Palestine, the death toll also includes 201 medical staff, 22 members of civil defence rescue teams, and 60 journalists, the Gaza-based government media office said.
Israel has justified its targeting of hospitals over allegations of the presence of Hamas tunnels inside the buildings that have been used as command centres. Those allegations have been debunked by numerous investigations, including one by Human Rights Watch.
At least 26 out of 35 hospitals in Gaza are either damaged or out of service, Palestine’s news agency (Wafa) reported on Sunday.
British-Palestinian doctor Ghassan Abu Sitta, who became one of the most prominent voices reporting the atrocities in Gaza, said that the destruction of Gaza’s health sector has been the main strategy of the Israeli war.
“The Israeli strategy was to destroy the health system so they would not survive the wounds that they have[…]it is obvious that this is a genocidal war,” he said.
On Monday, 28 babies premature babies were transferred from Gaza’s largest hospital to Egypt for urgent medical care.
These newborns had been at Al Shifa Hospital in north Gaza, where more infants died due to the disruption of medical services, including damaged incubators, during Israel’s brutal military operation in Gaza City.
Meanwhile, also on Monday, witnesses on the ground confirmed that Israeli tanks had encircled the Indonesian Hospital after launching direct strikes on the facility, where at least 12 were killed.