Two hospitals in southern Gaza under attack by Israeli forces, Palestinian health officials say

WARNING: This story contains graphic images

Israeli forces besieged two more Gaza hospitals on Sunday, pinning down medical teams under heavy gunfire, the Palestinian Red Crescent said, while Israel said it had captured 480 militants in continued clashes at Gaza’s main Al-Shifa Hospital.

Israel says hospitals in the Palestinian enclave, where war has been raging for more than five months, are used by Hamas militants as bases. It has released videos and pictures supporting the claim.

Hamas and medical staff deny the accusations.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said one of its staff was killed when Israeli tanks suddenly pushed back into areas around Al-Amal and Nasser hospitals in the southern city of Khan Younis, amid heavy bombardment and gunfire.

An adult carries injured children inside a crowded hospital.
A man carries children injured by Israeli bombardment, at a hospital in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on Sunday. (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli forces began operating around Al-Amal, the military said, following “precise intelligence … which indicated that terrorists are using civilian infrastructure for terror activities in the area of Al-Amal.”

Israeli forces sealed off Al-Amal Hospital and carried out extensive bulldozing operations in its vicinity, the Red Crescent said in a statement.

“All of our teams are in extreme danger at the moment and are completely immobilized,” it said.

The Red Crescent said Israeli forces were now demanding the complete evacuation of staff, patients and displaced people from Al Amal’s premises and were firing smoke bombs into the area to force out its occupants.

Map of pre-war Gaza Strip:

A displaced Palestinian was killed inside the hospital compound after being hit in the head by Israeli fire, the Red Crescent said in a later update.

The Health Ministry in Gaza said dozens of patients and medical staffers had been detained by Israeli forces at Al-Shifa Hospital, which has been under Israeli control for a week.

The Hamas-run government media office said Israeli forces had killed five Palestinian doctors during their seven-day-old swoop on Al-Shifa, located in Gaza City, in the enclave’s north.

WATCH | Gaza’s health-care system ravaged by war, aid shortages:

Gaza’s health-care system ravaged by war, aid shortages

Israel’s war in Gaza has crippled medical treatment in the territory, and even if the war were to end now, the fatal consequences are expected to last years, according to a report by the British Foreign Office.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment on that report. It said earlier that it had killed more than 170 gunmen in the raid, which the Palestinian Health Ministry said had also caused the deaths of five patients.

Al-Shifa is one of the few health-care facilities even partially operational in north Gaza, and, like others, had also been housing some of the nearly two million civilians — more than 80 per cent of Gaza’s population — displaced by the war.

Israeli strike kills 7 in Rafah, officials say

Reuters has been unable to access Gaza’s contested hospital areas and verify accounts by either side.

Khan Younis residents said Israeli forces had also advanced and formed a cordon around Nasser Hospital, in the city’s west, under cover of heavy air and ground fire.

In Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost town on the Egyptian border that has become the last refuge for half of Gaza’s uprooted population, an Israeli airstrike on a house killed seven people, health officials said.

An aerial view shows people gathering around a destroyed residential building.
People inspect the damage to residential buildings after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah on Sunday. (Fatima Shbair/The Associated Press)

At least 32,226 Palestinians have been killed, among them 84 in the past 24 hours, and 74,518 have been injured in Israel’s air and ground offensive into the densely populated coastal territory since Oct. 7, Gaza’s Health Ministry said in a Sunday update.

Israel launched the offensive after Hamas-led Islamist militants attacked its south on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages back to Gaza, according to Israeli tallies.

U.S.-backed mediation by Qatar and Egypt has so far failed to secure a Hamas-Israel ceasefire, prisoner releases and unfettered aid to civilians in Gaza facing famine, with each side sticking to core demands.

WATCH | UN warns famine imminent in northern Gaza:

UN warns famine imminent in northern Gaza without aid surge

The UN’s food insecurity monitor is warning that famine is imminent in parts of Gaza and could spread if a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas isn’t reached immediately to allow for a surge in aid.

Hamas wants any truce deal to include an Israeli commitment to end the war and withdraw forces from Gaza. Israel has ruled this out, saying it will keep fighting until Hamas is eradicated as a political and military force.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, during a visit to the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing on Saturday,  described the backlog of aid destined for Gaza as a “moral outrage.”

Speaking in Cairo on Sunday, Guterres said the only effective and efficient way to deliver heavy goods to meet Gaza’s humanitarian needs was by road.

The United States and other countries have tried using airdrops and ships to deliver aid, but UN aid officials say deliveries can only be scaled up by land, accusing Israel of impeding relief — a charge that Israel denies.

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