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Saturday, March 02, 2024  
21 Shaban 1445  

Medics transfer 28 premature babies from Gaza to Egypt

US, Israeli officials say a hostage deal in the besieged enclave was edging closer
Premature babies, who were evacuated from Al Shifa hospital, lie in an ambulance before they are transported for treatment in UAE, at Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, November 20, 2023. REUTERS
Premature babies, who were evacuated from Al Shifa hospital, lie in an ambulance before they are transported for treatment in UAE, at Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, November 20, 2023. REUTERS

A group of 28 premature babies from Gaza were evacuated on Monday from a hospital inside the bombarded Palestinian enclave into Egypt to receive treatment, according to Egyptian television footage and a Palestinian hospital doctor.

Medical staff on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing were seen carefully picking up tiny babies from inside ambulances and placing them in mobile incubators, which were then wheeled across a car park towards other ambulances.

The babies, from a total of 31 who were moved on Sunday from the besieged Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City to a maternity hospital in southern Gaza as a first step towards evacuation, wore only nappies and tiny green hats.

“The babies arrived to me from Al Shifa Hospital. They were in a catastrophic condition when they got here,” said Dr. Mohammad Salama, head of the neonatal unit at the Al-Helal Al-Emairati Hospital in Rafah, southern Gaza.

“Some were suffering from malnutrition, others from dehydration and some from low temperatures. We have worked in order to make their conditions stable during the past 24 hours,” he told Reuters by telephone.

“As soon as we got the call to prepare the babies, we got them prepared and ready to travel.”

Salama said some of the babies were with their mothers, while others who did not have relatives with them were accompanied by medical staff. In some cases where their mothers were dead or missing, other relatives signed consent forms for the transfer, he said.

Hostage deal edges closer despite fierce fighting in Gaza

Meanwhile, Hamas battled Israeli forces trying to push into Gaza’s largest refugee camp on Sunday, but despite the fighting US and Israeli officials said a deal to free some of the hostages held in the besieged enclave was edging closer.

About 240 hostages were taken during Hamas’s deadly cross-border rampage into Israel on October 7, which prompted Israel to invade the tiny Palestinian territory to wipe out the group.

Even as fighting raged on the ground, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog, said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that Israel was hopeful a significant number of hostages could be released by Hamas “in coming days.”

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