A picture taken from a position in southern Israel along the border with the Gaza Strip on January 19, 2024, shows an Israeli tank rolling along the fence as damaged buildings are see in the Gaza strip amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. Image Credit: AFP

Geneva: The United Nations said Friday that thousands of babies had been born in conditions “beyond belief” in Gaza since the war there erupted more than three months ago.

Spokeswoman Tess Ingram, back from a recent visit to the Gaza Strip, described mothers bleeding to death and one nurse who had performed emergency caesareans on six dead women.

Nearly 20,000 babies have been born into the war that began after the Hamas attacks inside Israel on October 7, according to the UN children’s agency UNICEF.

“That’s a baby born into this horrendous war every 10 minutes,” Ingram told reporters in Geneva via video link from Oman.

“Becoming a mother should be a time for celebration. In Gaza, it’s another child delivered into hell.”

She stressed the need for urgent international action.

“Seeing newborn babies suffer, while some mothers bleed to death, should keep us all awake at night.”

Hamas’s October 7 attack resulted in the deaths of about 1,140 people in Israel, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Israel has vowed to “annihilate” Hamas in response.

Its relentless air and ground offensive has killed at least 24,762 Palestinians, around 70 per cent of them women, children and adolescents, according to figures from the Hamas-run health ministry.

Ingram described “heartbreaking” meetings with women caught up in the chaos.

‘Unimaginable challenges’

One woman, Mashael, was pregnant when her house was hit and her husband buried under the rubble for several days, and her baby stopped moving.

“She says she is sure now, about a month later, that the baby is dead,” Ingram said. But, she added: “She is still waiting for medical care.”

Mashael had told her it was best “a baby isn’t born into this nightmare”, she said.

Ingram also told the story of a nurse named Webda, who said she had performed emergency caesareans on six dead women in the last eight weeks.

“Mothers face unimaginable challenges in accessing adequate medical care, nutrition, and protection before, during and after giving birth,” Ingram said.

“The situation of pregnant women and newborns in the Gaza Strip is beyond belief, and it demands intensified and immediate actions.”

Ingram pointed out that the Emirati Hospital in Rafah was now catering to the vast majority of pregnant women in Gaza.