KHAN YOUNIS (Gaza Strip) – Heavy fighting broke out Monday around a hospital in northern Gaza where thousands of patients and displaced people have taken refuge for weeks, while Israeli forces focus on evacuating medical facilities they say Hamas militants are using for cover.
The progress on the Indonesian hospital came a day after the World Health Organization announced 31 premature babies evacuated From Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in the Strip, where they were among more than 250 critically ill or wounded people stranded there days after Israeli forces entered the compound.
The plight of Gaza’s hospitals is the focus of A Battle of novels Due to the brutal losses inflicted on Palestinian civilians during the war, with thousands of them killed or killed Buried under rubble Since the six-week war broke out at the hands of Hamas October 7, rampage in southern Israel.
Israel says Hamas is using civilians as human shields, while critics say Israel’s blockade and relentless aerial bombardment amount to collective punishment of the Strip’s 2.3 million Palestinians.
Marwan Abdullah, a medical worker at the Indonesian hospital, said Israeli tanks were visible from the windows. “You can see them moving and shooting,” he added. “Women and children are terrified. There are continuous sounds of explosions and gunfire.”
Al Jazeera broadcast footage that appears to have been taken from inside the hospital, showing tanks firing directly outside the facility.
Abdullah said that the hospital received dozens of dead and wounded in air strikes and shelling during the night. He added that the medical staff and the displaced fear that Israel will besiege the hospital and force it to evacuate.
The Israeli military, which rarely announces troop movements, had no immediate comment.
The children were evacuated
United Nations agencies were able to evacuate the infants safely. who were in critical conditionFrom Shifa to a hospital in southern Gaza, they plan to transfer them to a hospital in neighboring Egypt. Four other children died in the two days before the evacuation, according to Muhammad Zaqout, director of Gaza’s hospitals.
More than 250 seriously injured patients and other urgent cases remain at Al Shifa Hospital, which is no longer able to provide most treatment after running out of water, medical supplies and fuel for emergency generators amid power outages across the region. Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian militants outside their gates for several days before entering the facility last Wednesday.
The Israeli military said it has strong evidence to support its claims that Hamas maintains a sprawling command center inside and beneath the 20-acre hospital complex, which includes several buildings, garages and a courtyard.
The army posted a video showing what it said was a tunnel discovered in the hospital, measuring 55 meters (60 yards) long and about 10 meters (33 feet) underground. She added that the tunnel includes a staircase and a shooting hole that can be used by militants, and ends at an explosion-proof door that the forces have not yet opened.
The Associated Press was unable to independently verify Israel’s findings, which included security camera video showing what the military said were two foreign hostages, one Thai and one Nepalese, captured by Hamas in the Oct. 7 attack and taken to a hospital.
The army also said that the investigation found that IDF Cpl. Noa Marciano, another captive whose body was recovered in Gaza, was wounded in an Israeli raid on November 9 that killed her captor, but was then killed by a Hamas activist in Shifa.
Hamas and hospital workers denied these allegations that there was a command center under Al-Shifa’s administration. Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official, rejected the latest announcement, saying: “The Israelis said that there is a command and control center, which means that the matter is more than just a tunnel.”
Three out of every four people are displaced
Israel has repeatedly ordered the Palestinians to leave northern Gaza and take refuge in the south, which has also been subjected to aerial bombardment since the beginning of the war. About 1.7 million people, nearly three-quarters of Gaza’s population, have been displaced, with 900,000 people in crowded UN-run shelters, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Their suffering has worsened in recent days due to cold winds and heavy rain.
More than 11,500 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, according to Palestinian health authorities. Another 2,700 were reported missing, believed to be buried under the rubble. count No difference Between civilians and combatants, and Israel says it has killed thousands of militants.
About 1,200 people were killed on the Israeli side, most of them civilians, during the October 7 attack, in which Hamas participated. About 240 prisoners were withdrawn Return to Gaza. The army says 63 Israeli soldiers were killed.
Hamas released four hostages, Israel rescued one, and the bodies of two were found near Shifa.
Israel, the United States and Qatar, which mediates with Hamas, have been negotiating for weeks to release a larger number of hostages. The three-member Israeli war cabinet is scheduled to meet Representatives of the hostages’ families Monday evening.
Yemeni rebels seize the ship
Yemen Houthi rebels seized a cargo ship linked to Israel in the southern Red Sea and took its 25 crew hostage on Sunday, raising fears that regional tensions heightened by the war could spill over into the seas. The Iran-backed rebel group said it would continue to target ships linked to Israel.
There were no Israelis on board the Bahamas-flagged Galaxy Leader, which is operated by a Japanese company with crew members from the Philippines, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine and Mexico. Public shipping databases linked the ship’s owners to Ray Car Carriers, a company founded by Avraham Ungar, known as one of the richest people in Israel.
Ungar told The Associated Press that he was aware of the incident but could not comment because he was awaiting details. A ship linked to it witnessed an explosion in 2021 in the Gulf of Oman. Israeli media blamed this on Iran at the time.
The Galaxy Leader has been transferred to the port city of Hodeidah in Yemen, according to the British Army’s British Maritime Trade Operations. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Japanese officials were negotiating with the rebels for the release of the ship and its crew.
Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Tia Goldenberg in Tel Aviv, Israel contributed.
Complete AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.