As Gaza fighting deepens, Israeli forces storm hospital

Middle East News
2024-01-22 | 13:39
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As Gaza fighting deepens, Israeli forces storm hospital
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As Gaza fighting deepens, Israeli forces storm hospital

Israeli forces, advancing deep into western Khan Younis in Gaza's bloodiest fighting so far in January, stormed one hospital and put another under siege on Monday, cutting the wounded off from trauma care, Palestinian officials said. 

Troops advanced for the first time into the al-Mawasi district near the Mediterranean Coast, west of Khan Younis, the main city in southern Gaza. There, they stormed the Al-Khair hospital and were arresting medical staff, Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al Qidra told Reuters. 

There was no immediate word from Israel on the situation at the hospital. The military spokesperson's office had no comment. 

Qidra said at least 50 people were killed overnight in Khan Younis, while the sieges of medical facilities meant dozens of dead and wounded were beyond the reach of rescuers. 

"The Israeli occupation is preventing ambulance vehicles from moving to recover bodies of martyrs and the wounded from western Khan Younis," he said. 

The Palestinian Red Crescent said tanks had surrounded another Khan Younis hospital, al-Amal, headquarters of the rescue agency, which had lost contact with staff there. 

"We are deeply worried about what is happening around our hospital," said Tommaso Della Longa, spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. 

"Ambulances cannot go in or out and we cannot provide any emergency health care to people in the area.” 

Israel says Hamas fighters operate from in and around hospitals, which Hamas and medical staff deny. 

"Hamas embeds its operation within and under hospitals and other medical facilities," said Elad Goren of COGAT, the Israeli defence ministry branch that coordinates with the Palestinians. "A particular effort led by a dedicated team has been put on making sure that civilians have access to medical care." 

Residents said the bombardment from air, land and sea was the most intense in the southern sector of Gaza since the war began in October. 

Video filmed from afar showed scattered civilians wandering around a ghost city, crowded with tents with abandoned laundry flapping on lines, as gunfire rattled and smoke rose into the sky. 

Israel launched an offensive last week to capture Khan Younis, which it now says is the principal headquarters of the Hamas militants responsible for the Oct. 7 attacks on southern Israel that killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli tallies. 

The newest phase of the war has brought fighting deep into the last corners of the enclave now packed with those who fled bombardment. At least 25,295 Gazans have been killed since Oct. 7, Gaza health authorities said in an update on Monday. 

The majority of Gaza's 2.3 million residents are now penned into Rafah just south of Khan Younis and Deir al-Balah just north of it, crammed into public buildings and camps of tents made from plastic sheets lashed to wooden frames. 

Lines of cars and donkey carts piled high with belongings pushed south as Gazans sought to flee the bombardments. 

"This is the seventh time I get displaced," said Gazan Mariam Abu-Haleeb, weeping in a car surrounded by her possessions. 

Ahmad Abu-Shaweesh, a boy, described having taken shelter in the Al-Aqsa University only to find the institution coming under attack. 

"We hardly made it out of the university under the shelling. We didn't expect the tanks at the university's gates." 

Reuters 
 

Middle East News

Gaza

Israel

Khan Younis

Fighting

Hospital

Palestinian

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