(NewsNation) — Palestine Red Crescent ambulance teams departed from Gaza’s largest hospital in Rafah Monday to transport 28 premature babies to the Rafah Crossing, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society.
The move to transfer these babies to Egyptian hospitals for better medical treatment comes in coordination with the World Health Organization and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the tweet said.
Health officials originally said 31 babies were to be transferred to Egypt, but three babies had to stay behind at the Emarati Hospital in southern Gaza for treatment, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, said in a social media post.
Ghebreyesus said 28 of the 31 premature babies were safely transferred to Al-Arish to receive medical treatment in Egypt.
The babies remain in “extremely critical condition” and had dehydration, hypothermia and sepsis in some cases.
From there, 12 of those babies were flown to Cairo, Ghebreyesus said.
Four other babies died in the two days before the evacuation, said Mohamed Zaqout, director of Gaza hospitals.
Over 250 patients with severely infected wounds and other urgent conditions remained stranded days after Israeli forces entered the compound to look for Hamas operations.
The plight of the babies, along with the Israeli claims against Shifa Hospital, have become potent symbols in the devastating war between Israel and Hamas. An Israeli offensive has taken a heavy toll on Palestinian civilians, while Israel has accused Hamas of using Shifa and other hospitals as headquarters for military operations.
Hamas and hospital staff have denied the allegations of a command post under Shifa. Critics describe the hospital as a symbol of what they call Israel’s reckless endangerment of civilians. Thousands have been killed in Israeli strikes in Gaza, according to AP, which is severely short of food, water, medicine and fuel.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.