Injured Palestinian toddler

An injured toddler cries as she awaits treatment at the emergency ward of the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on November 5, 2023.

(Photo: Bashar Taleb/AFP via Getty Images)

'Can You Hear the Screams?' Physician Says Western Leaders Complicit in Israeli Attacks on Gaza Hospitals

"When are you going to stop this?" Dr. Mads Gilbert asked U.S. President Joe Biden and the leaders of European nations.

A Norwegian physician who has volunteered in Gaza for decades said Friday that Western leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, are complicit in Israel's intensifying assault on the Palestinian enclave's hospitals, which are overwhelmed with airstrike victims and displaced people seeking refuge.

In a video message posted to social media as Israeli forces bombarded al-Shifa—Gaza's largest hospital—and other medical facilities, Dr. Mads Gilbert asked, "Can you hear the screams from innocent people, refugees sheltering, trying to find a safe place, being bombed by the Israeli attack forces this morning inside the hospital, hospitals that are the temples of humanity and protection?"

"When are you going to stop this?" Gilbert added, with audio of screams from Gaza's al-Shifa hospital playing in the background. "You're all complicit."

Gilbert's plea for immediate action from world leaders who are supporting and arming Israel's military came as Israeli forces surrounded al-Shifa and other hospitals in northern Gaza, claiming that Hamas is using the facilities as command centers—an assertion that hospital directors have denied.

Targeting hospitals is a war crime under international law.

Israeli airstrikes and sniper fire on Gaza hospitals have forced thousands of people who were sheltering at the facilities to flee, but many others "remain trapped inside," the U.K.-based humanitarian group Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) said Saturday.

The charity said it has heard "chilling testimony from inside Gaza's largest hospital, al-Shifa," including reports that "the intensive care unit has been bombed and damaged."

"Staff moving between buildings have been shot at and critically wounded," said MAP, which is calling for a cease-fire. "Those who have tried to flee have come under fire, and lie dead or wounded in the street as rescue is impossible. With the mortuary shut down, a hundred bodies are piled up and cannot be buried."

"Power has gone out, and staff are having to hand ventilate critically ill patients to keep them alive," the group continued. "At least one patient in intensive care has already died. Babies in the neonatal intensive care unit which MAP has supported over many years are beginning to die from lack of oxygen. More will die soon unless the power supply is restored. Day after day, week after week, we have been warning of catastrophic consequences if world leaders fail to protect healthcare in Gaza. Our worst fears are coming true."

Doctors Without Borders, which has been providing emergency assistance in the Gaza Strip, offered a similarly harrowing account.

"We are currently unable to contact any of our staff inside al-Shifa, and we are extremely concerned about the safety of patients and the medical staff," the group said late Friday. "Patients are still in the hospital, some in critical condition and unable to move."

Mohammed Obeid, a Doctors Without Borders physician at al-Shifa, said that "there is a patient who needs surgery. There is a patient who's already asleep in our department. We cannot evacuate ourselves and [leave] these people inside. As a doctor, I swear to help the people who need help."

Early Saturday, the group wrote on social media that its staff "are witnessing people being shot at as they attempt to flee the al-Shifa hospital."

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