KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) — Palestinian officials on Tuesday called for a cease-fire to evacuate three dozen newborns and other patients trapped inside Gaza’s largest hospital, as Israeli forces fought in the streets outside Hamas and seized more land across northern Gaza.
The Israeli army has been encircled for several days Shifa HospitalHamas is determined to capture the facility it says is hidden underneath, using civilians as shields for its main command base.
Hospital staff and Hamas deny the claim. Meanwhile, hundreds of patients, staff and displaced people are trapped inside, running low on supplies and without electricity to run incubators and other life-saving equipment. Without refrigeration for days, mortuary workers dug a mass grave in the courtyard for more than 120 bodies on Tuesday, officials said.
Clashes erupted at Shifa and other hospitals as Israeli forces control large swathes of Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip, claiming they are driving out and killing Hamas militants.
Israel has vowed to crush the Hamas regime in Gaza after the terrorist attack on Israel on October 7. About 1,200 people were killed and about 240 hostages. But the Israeli government has admitted it doesn’t know what to do with the area after Hamas’ defeat, even as its troops control a devastated northern Gaza.
The attack – devastating to Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians – was one of the most intense bombings so far this century.
More than 11,200 people, two-thirds of them women and children, have been killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah. About 2,700 people are missing. Number of Ministry Does not differentiate Between civilian and militant deaths.
Almost all of Gaza’s population has moved into the southern two-thirds of the small territory, where conditions are worsening despite continued bombardment. The UN said on Tuesday that around 200,000 people have fled the north in recent days, but tens of thousands are believed to remain.
Hamas released a video late Monday showing one of the hostages, 19-year-old Noah Marciano, before and after he was killed in what Hamas said was an Israeli strike. The army later declared her a fallen soldier, not identifying the cause of death.
She is the first hostage confirmed to have died in captivity. Four were released by Hamas, and the fifth was rescued by Israeli forces.
The plight of hospitals
Fighting has raged for days around Shifa Hospital, a sprawling multi-city block in the center of Gaza City that has now “turned into a graveyard,” its director said in a statement.
Shifa’s emergency generator ran out of fuel on Saturday, killing 40 patients, including three children, the health ministry said. Another 36 babies are at risk of dying because incubators lack power, the ministry said.
Israel’s military says it has begun efforts to move incubators to Shifa. But they would be useless without electricity, said Christian Lindmeyer, a spokesman for the World Health Organization.
He said the only way to save the newborns was to get them out of Gaza, which would require special equipment and a ceasefire along the way.
The Ministry of Health has proposed to evacuate the hospital and transfer patients to hospitals in Egypt with the supervision of the International Committee of the Red Cross, but has received no response, said ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qitra.
While Israel says it is willing to allow staff and patients to evacuate, some Palestinians who have released it say Israeli forces have opened fire on evacuees.
Israel says it is the Hamas command center In and below Shifa are based on intelligence but do not provide visual evidence to support them. Gaza’s health ministry, which has denied the claims, says it has invited international organizations to investigate the facility.
On Monday, the military released footage of a children’s hospital in Gaza City that its forces entered over the weekend, showing weapons found inside and basement rooms where militants are believed to be holding hostages. The video showed what appeared to be a hastily installed toilet and ventilation system in the basement.
Rejecting the allegations, the Ministry of Health has said that the area has been converted into a shelter for displaced people.
War in Gaza City
Independent accounts of the fighting in Gaza City are nearly impossible to gather because communications to the north have largely collapsed.
Videos released by the Israeli military show troops moving through the city and firing at buildings. Bulldozers push down structures as tanks roll through streets lined with partially collapsed towers.
The videos depict a battle in which troops root out pockets of Hamas fighters, demolish buildings they find and gradually dismantle the group’s tunnel network.
Israel says it has killed several thousand fighters, including key mid-level commanders, while 46 of its own soldiers have been killed in Gaza. The military says Hamas has lost control in the north, and in recent days Hamas rocket fire into Israel — constant throughout the war — has decreased. Israeli accounting details and the extent of Hamas losses have not been independently confirmed.
An Israeli commander in Gaza, identified only as Lt. Col. Gilad, said in a video that his forces captured government buildings, schools and residential buildings near Shifa Hospital, where they found weapons and eliminated militants. After each one was destroyed, “the place was demolished,” he said.
The army said it captured Gaza’s legislative building, Hamas police headquarters and Hamas’ military intelligence headquarters. The captured buildings have a high symbolic value, but their strategic value is unclear. Hamas fighters are believed to be stationed in underground bunkers.
Israeli news sites showed images of soldiers holding up the Israeli flag and military flags in celebration inside some buildings.
Bad conditions in the south
Israel has urged civilians in the north to leave for the south, but southern Gaza is far from safe. Israel conducts frequent airstrikes across Gaza, hitting what it says are militant targets, but mostly killing women and children.
About 1.5 million Palestinians, more than two-thirds of Gaza’s population, have fled their homes. UN-run shelters in the south are severely overcrowded.
People Queue for hours Scarce bread and brackish water. Garbage piles up, sewers flood streets and pipes run dry because there is no way to power the water systems. Since the start of the war, Israel has banned fuel imports that Hamas uses for military purposes.
In a tent camp outside a hospital in the central city of Deir al-Bala, people waded in mud with plastic tarps stretched over flimsy tents.
“All these tents collapsed because of the rain,” said Iqbal Abu Saud, who fled Gaza City with 30 of his relatives. “How many days to deal with this?”
The UN for Palestinian refugees is struggling to provide basic services to the 600,000 people sheltered in schools and other facilities in the south. The agency said it expected to run out of fuel by Wednesday. Limited supply of food and medicine From Egypt.
Jeffrey and Keith reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Amy Deibel in Jerusalem, Wafa Shurafa in Deir al-Bala, Gaza Strip; Sammy Magdy in Cairo. contributed to this report.
Full AP coverage https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.
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