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Injured Palestinians arrive to al-Shifa Hospital, after Israeli air strikes on Gaza City, central Gaza Strip, on Oct. 16.Abed Khaled/The Associated Press

A Canadian pediatrician faces the prospect of watching 40 newborns die in Gaza.

A Canadian mother learns the Palestinian father of her children cannot join them in crossing a humanitarian corridor to Egypt expected to open this week.

A Canadian dad fasts so his children will have enough to eat.

As Israeli air strikes continue to pound the Gaza Strip in response to the attack by Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, and Palestinians flee south ahead of an expected Israeli ground invasion, hundreds of Canadians are among the 2.3 million people facing limited options for escaping a humanitarian disaster.

Israel authorities halted supplies of food, fuel, water and medicine into Gaza soon after the Hamas attack began on Oct. 7. Since then, 378 Canadians in Gaza have requested assistance from Global Affairs Canada.

Among them is Ehab Bader, a pediatrician volunteering in the neonatal intensive care unit of Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. He has roughly 40 newborns on his patient roster, most being kept alive by an array of ventilators, incubators and monitors, he said. As of Monday evening, he was told the hospital’s electrical generators would run out of fuel in 24 hours.

“If we run out of electricity, that’s it, they will die on the spot,” he said of the babies.

Israel-Hamas live war updates: Fifth Canadian confirmed dead in last weekend’s Hamas attack

Israel has ordered the city’s residents, including the hospitals, to empty out and move south. But moving the newborns – as well as patients on ventilators, dialysis and other mechanical interventions – would be logistically challenging. “Most patients we have would not survive,” he said.

Dr. Bader is keen to leave Gaza and reunite with his wife and children in London, Ont., but Canadian officials haven’t confirmed whether his elderly Palestinian parents would be able to go with him if the Egyptian border crossing at Rafah opens this week.

The journey south remains perilous. Days ago, he said, a close friend heeded the Israeli directive only to die en route with his wife and son.

Rani Hemaid, a government worker in Hamilton, said his parents also tried to make the treacherous drive south from Gaza City, but had to turn back after a car travelling 50 metres ahead of them was hit.

“My mother said, ‘They told us to evacuate and then they killed the people in front of us – we’re not going anywhere,’ ” Mr. Hemaid said.

More cruel choices face those who successfully navigate southward.

On Saturday, Canadian Asia Mathkour travelled to the Rafah crossing with her two children and Palestinian husband, Mohammed Shehada. Canadian officials had informed her that the border would open for foreign nationals from noon until 5 p.m. But ten minutes before noon, she received another call saying the opening was cancelled, according to Mr. Shehada’s sister, Beesan Shehada. To add to the misery, she was told that her husband would have to remain in Gaza.

“How can they put this mother and her children under that kind of pressure?” Ms. Shehada said. “These children are 5 and 2½ years old. How do you expect them to say goodbye to their dad? Because there is no guarantee they will ever see him again.”

Government officials have advised Ms. Mathkour to apply for a visa on behalf of her husband, an onerous demand given the circumstances, Ms. Shehada said. “There’s no electricity, no internet, no food, no nothing, and they want her to apply for a visa for him,” she said. “I can’t wrap my mind around it.”

Ottawa is working to secure passage through the Rafah crossing for Canadian citizens, permanent residents and their families, according to a statement from Global Affairs spokesperson Charlotte MacLeod, “however there is a possibility only Canadian citizens will be given access.”

On the weekend, Mansour Shouman, a Calgary-based engineer, appeared on a Turkish television station from Rafah saying he was waiting for an opening at the crossing with his wife and five children. “Everyone is hungry,” he told a reporter. “I’m currently, for example, fasting. I’m trying to reduce the food I’m eating to keep more food on the table for the kids.”

Omar Abu-Thuraia in Montreal said his cousins back in Gaza are intentionally staying in separate buildings to ensure a single bomb doesn’t eliminate the entire family.

“What they’re doing is actually trading kids with another so that if one family is hit, some kids survive,” he said. “Imagine sitting down and making these decisions to split up your kids so that you don’t all disappear. These are human beings.”

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