Three UN agencies call for immediate action to halt attacks on Gaza hospitals

Three United Nations agencies have issued a joint statement calling for urgent international action to end the ongoing attacks on hospitals in the Gaza Strip.

The World Health Organization, the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, and the UN Population Fund, UNFPA released their statement on Sunday.

The UN groups said at least 137 attacks on health care facilities in Gaza have been recorded over the past 36 days, resulting in 521 deaths including 16 on-duty health workers and 686 injuries.

The statement said "attacks on medical facilities and civilians are unacceptable and are a violation of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law and Conventions."

It added that "the right to seek medical assistance, especially in time of crisis, should never be denied." The statement noted that "more than half of the hospitals in Gaza are closed," and those still functioning can only provide very limited emergency services.

The UN bodies said "the world cannot stand silent while hospitals, which should be safe havens, are transformed into scenes of death, devastation and despair."

They said "decisive international action is needed now to secure an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and prevent further loss of life, and preserve what's left of the health care system in Gaza."

Meanwhile, the director of Gaza's largest Al-Shifa Hospital told Arab media that six newborn babies died as the facility was unable to use incubators due to the loss of power caused by fuel shortages.

The hospital head added that nine others, who were being treated for illness or injuries, also died.

Health authorities in Gaza say the lives of some 650 patients, and around 1,500 evacuees at Al-Shifa Hospital are at risk.

But Israeli forces claim that a key command center of the Islamic group Hamas is located under the hospital, and are calling for the facility to be evacuated.

On Monday, the Israeli military said it continued attacks on key Hamas targets outside a refugee camp in northern Gaza.

Israeli forces said Hamas intentionally located its activity centers within civilian facilities such as schools, mosques and residential buildings.