A first group of prematurely-born babies have arrived in Egypt for treatment after they were evacuated from Gaza’s biggest hospital.

The 28 infants were transported from the Emirati hospital in southern Gaza, having been evacuated from the besieged al Shifa hospital, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent and Egyptian media.

Footage on Egyptian TV showed medics lifting tiny infants from inside an ambulance and placing them in mobile incubators, which were then wheeled towards other ambulances.

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Health officials initially said a total of 31 premature babies had been safely moved to the facility, but it is unclear what has happened to three of the infants.

The premature babies were evacuated from al Shifa

The babies, who the World Health Organisation said have “serious infections”, will now be treated in Egyptian hospitals.

Four other babies died in the two days before the evacuation on Sunday, according to Mohamed Zaqout, the director of Gaza hospitals, amid a collapse in medical services partly caused by power cuts when fuel ran out.

Israel has been criticised for the number of civilian deaths reported in Gaza, with the Hamas-run health ministry claiming more than 12,000 Palestinians have been killed.

The Israeli military is particularly scrutinised for the impact on the territory’s hospitals, with reports of fighting around another facility in northern Gaza on Monday raising fears of another evacuation.

A shell struck the second floor of the Indonesian Hospital, where thousands of patients and displaced people have been sheltering, according to the Hamas-led health ministry.

The ministry claims at least 12 Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded by firing into the complex encircled by Israeli tanks.

Smoke rises over the al Shifa hospital
Smoke seen rising over the al Shifa hospital earlier in the conflict

Marwan Abdallah, a medical worker at the facility, told the Associated Press Israeli tanks were operating less than 200m from the hospital, and Israeli snipers could be seen on roofs nearby.

As he spoke over the phone, the sound of gunfire could be heard in the background.

Mr Abdallah said the hospital, which is among those forced to cease operations due to the fuel shortage, had received dozens of dead and wounded after airstrikes and shelling overnight.

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He said medical staff and displaced people fear Israel will besiege the hospital and force its evacuation.

Human Rights Watch warned hospitals have special protections under the laws of war and only lose that status “if it can be shown that harmful acts have been carried out from the premises”.

Israel claims Hamas uses civilians as human shields and operated a major command hub beneath al Shifa, while 1,200 people were killed in the militant group’s 7 October attack, Israel says, and 242 were taken back to Gaza as hostage.

Critics say Israel’s offensive amounts to collective punishment of the territory’s 2.3 million Palestinians.