Gaza’s Largest Hospital Digs a Mass Grave as Israeli Bombardment Continues

Palestinians injured in Israeli raids arrive at Nasser Medical Hospital on Tuesday in Khan Younis, Gaza. Ahmad Hasaballah /Getty Images

TEL AVIV, Israel — Gaza’s largest hospital reports that it has buried more than 100 people in a mass grave, as it says bodies decompose in its courtyard and babies are dying because their incubators have no power.

The conditions at Al-Shifa Hospital, and other medical facilities in Gaza, are worsening to new unimaginable levels, according to health officials and humanitarian groups on the ground.

Doctors Without Borders has medical teams at Al-Shifa, which is located in Gaza City.

“Our staff is saying there is no electricity,” said PaulCaney, the group’s emergency coordinator. “People are staying in the corridors because of sniper fire near the windows and that they cannot move any of the patients to ambulances.”

Hospitals have run out of fuel to power their generators, including Al-Shifa and Al-Quds in the north of Gaza, and have ceased to function as medical facilities. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Tuesday that “all but one of the hospitals are no longer operational.” There are 35 hospitals in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

More than 11, 200 Palestinians in Gaza have died, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. Officials report a rising death toll as Israel continues its siege on the region in response to the Oct. 7 attacks by the militant group Hamas. However, the health officials said there have been challenges in updating the tally for the third day in a row due to service and communication disruptions.

About 1,200 Israelis died in that initial series of attacks by Hamas more than a month ago.

Without fuel, the Gazan hospitals’ youngest patients are suffering the most.

Al-Shifa ran out of fuel on Saturday. Three premature babies have died since then, according to health officials in Gaza.

The Ministry of Health also reported Tuesday that the bodies of 170 Palestinians were buried in a mass grave in the hospital’s courtyard due to the ongoing siege.

The continued fighting has also meant other injured patients and displaced Palestinians who fear evacuating to the south are crowded into hospitals in the north for shelter.

People mourn as they collect the bodies of Palestinians killed in Israeli raids on Tuesday in Khan Younis, Gaza.
People mourn as they collect the bodies of Palestinians killed in Israeli raids on Tuesday in Khan Younis, Gaza.

Israel says it has focused on some hospitals in Gaza because it says Hamas is operating from military facilities underneath them, an allegation Hamas denies.

On Monday, the Israeli military released a video showing what it claims to be Hamas tunnels underneath Al-Rantisi Hospital. Israeli military officials said that they found weapons under the hospital, which they said is evidence of Hamas’ operations there.

NPR can’t independently confirm these details, but Hamas is denying it used the hospital as a military headquarters.

Gaza health officials said the basement was “included in the design of the hospital and includes the administration and hospital stores. It has become a shelter place for displaced people fleeing the bombing to take shelter inside the hospital.”

Jaclyn Diaz and Greg Myre reported from Tel Aviv. Ruth Sherlock reported from Rome. Aya Batrawy reported from Cairo.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

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