Twin girls were born in a collapsing hospital in southern Gaza on Saturday, just days after their mother had to leave another struggling health center in the north.
The babies, named Nuha and Fatina, were born prematurely and need formula. But there is no water to prepare it at the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, a city buckling under the pressure of new arrivals, as half a million people in the Gaza Strip have fled their homes in anticipation of an Israeli ground invasion.
Less than a week ago, the babies’ mother, Nahla Abu Elouf, 26, was seven months pregnant and hospitalized at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Her blood pressure had dropped and the babies’ heartbeats became irregular as Israel began launching heavy airstrikes on the city in response to a cross-border assault by Hamas fighters. Nahla Abu Elouf’s sister is Samar Abu Elouf, a freelance photographer who has covered Gaza for The New York Times since 2021.
Al Shifa, the largest medical complex in the Gaza Strip, was quickly inundated after the start of the strikes. Many of those entering the hospital were wounded, covered in dust and blood; others were desperate for a safer place to stay; still others were already dead, and their bodies had to be placed on the sidewalk outside the overwhelmed morgue.
“The harrowing scenes have been playing out on a seemingly endless loop,” Samar Abu Elouf reported from Al Shifa Hospital on Thursday. The next day, Israel’s military ordered a mass evacuation of the northern area, warning more than one million people to move south.
The hospital discharged Nahla Abu Elouf to make room for more urgent cases. After a couple of days at home, she and her husband joined the hundreds of thousands who were fleeing the north.
Ms. Abu Elouf’s contractions began as the couple was approaching Khan Younis. Shortly after they reached the hospital, the twins were born through an emergency C-section.
Medicine and supplies are running out there, too, according to Samar Abu Elouf. As Nuha and Fatina adjust to their first days of life, their loved ones are scouring the city for bottled water, she said, to make them the formula they need.