Patients, medics flee southern Gaza hospital following evacuation orders, WHO reports

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Gaza’s European Hospital in Khan Younis stands nearly empty as staff and patients have fled following evacuation orders from the Israeli army, a World Health Organization spokesperson reported on Tuesday.

“The hospital staff and the patients decided to evacuate themselves,” said Rik Peeperkorn, WHO Representative for the occupied Palestinian territories. Speaking via video link from Jerusalem during a U.N. press briefing, he added that only three patients remained. “We plea that the European Gaza Hospital be spared and undamaged,” he said.

Dr. Ahmed Abdelbari from Nasser Hospital stated that the evacuation was prompted after the European Hospital was informed it was in a combat zone. “People were forced to carry their wounded and flee to the only remaining hospital in the Gaza Strip, Nasser Hospital, leading to severe overcrowding,” he said on Tuesday.

The Israeli army had ordered residents of several towns and villages in eastern Khan Younis to evacuate on Monday, prior to tanks re-entering the area after having left weeks earlier.

On Tuesday, Israeli forces bombarded several areas of the southern Gaza Strip, causing thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes. This may be part of a final push in Israel’s intensive military operations that have spanned nine months of conflict.

The war in Gaza erupted on October 7 when Hamas militants launched an incursion into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostages, including civilians and soldiers, according to Israeli authorities.

In response, Israel’s offensive has resulted in nearly 38,000 deaths, as reported by the Gaza health ministry, and has left the densely populated coastal enclave in devastation.