KHAN YOUNIS (Gaza Strip) – Palestinian authorities on Tuesday called a ceasefire to evacuate thirteen newborns and other patients trapped inside Gaza’s largest hospital while Israeli forces clashed with Hamas in the streets outside and seized more territory in northern Gaza.
For several days, the Israeli army surrounded the area Al-Shifa HospitalIt is the facility that Hamas says is hiding in and under to use civilians as shields for its main command base.
Hospital staff and Hamas deny this allegation. Meanwhile, hundreds of patients, staff and displaced people were trapped inside, with dwindling supplies and no electricity to power incubators and other life-saving equipment. With no refrigeration for several days, morgue employees on Tuesday dug a mass grave in the courtyard for more than 120 bodies, officials said.
The standoff at Al-Shifa Hospital and other hospitals comes as Israeli forces control larger areas of Gaza City and the surrounding northern part of the Gaza Strip, saying they are expelling and killing Hamas fighters.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant said in a news conference broadcast on national television Tuesday night that Hamas has “lost control” of northern Gaza and that Israel has made significant gains in Gaza City. But when asked about the time frame of the war, Gallant said: “We are talking about many months, not a day or two.”
Israel pledged to crush Hamas’s rule in Gaza after the movement’s attack on Israel on October 7 About 1,200 people were killed Nearly 240 hostages were taken. But even as its forces take control of more devastated areas in northern Gaza, the Israeli government has admitted that it does not know what to do with the Strip after the defeat of Hamas.
This attack – one of the heaviest bombing operations so far this century – was disastrous for Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians.
More than 11,200 people, two-thirds of them women and minors, were killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah. About 2,700 people were reported missing. Ministry statistics No difference Among the dead among civilians and soldiers.
Almost all of Gaza’s population has shrunk to the southern two-thirds of the small strip, where conditions have deteriorated even as bombing continues there. The United Nations said on Tuesday that about 200,000 people had fled the north in recent days, but tens of thousands were believed to remain.
Hamas released a video late Monday showing one of the hostages, 19-year-old Noah Marciano, before and after she was killed in what Hamas said was an Israeli raid. The army later declared her a martyr, without specifying the cause of death.
She is the first hostage whose death in captivity was confirmed. Hamas released four of them and Israeli forces rescued the fifth.
The plight of hospitals
The hospital director said in a statement that fighting had raged for days around Al-Shifa Hospital, a complex located in central Gaza City that “has now turned into a cemetery.”
The Ministry of Health said that 40 patients, including three children, had died since the emergency generator at Al-Shifa Hospital ran out of fuel on Saturday. The Ministry stated that 36 other children were at risk of death due to the lack of electricity for incubators.
The Israeli army said it had begun an effort to transfer the incubators to Al-Shifa Hospital. Christian Lindmeier, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, said it would be useless without electricity.
Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said that the ministry proposed evacuating the hospital under the supervision of the International Committee of the Red Cross and transferring patients to hospitals in Egypt, but it did not receive any response.
While Israel says it is prepared to allow staff and patients to evacuate, some Palestinians who managed to get out say Israeli forces opened fire on the evacuees.
Israel says it claims the existence of a Hamas command center In and under healing It is based on intelligence but has not provided visual evidence to support it. The Gaza Ministry of Health denied these allegations and said it had called on international organizations to investigate the facility.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the United States has unspecified intelligence from a variety of sources that Hamas and other Palestinian militants are using Al-Shifa Hospital and other hospitals and tunnels underneath them to hide and support military operations and take hostages.
But Kirby said the United States does not support air strikes on hospitals and does not want to see “a gun battle in a hospital where innocent people and helpless and sick people are simply trying to get the medical care they deserve.”
On Monday, the army released footage of a children’s hospital in Gaza City that its forces entered over the weekend, showing weapons it said were found inside, as well as rooms in the basement 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.
The Ministry of Health rejected these allegations, saying that the area had turned into a shelter for displaced people.
Battle in Gaza City
It was almost impossible to gather independent accounts of the fighting in Gaza City, as communications to the north had largely collapsed.
Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hajari said that Israeli forces have completed control of the Beach refugee camp, a densely built-up area adjacent to downtown Gaza City, and are moving freely throughout the city.
Videos released by the Israeli army show forces moving through the city, firing at buildings. Bulldozers push buildings down while tanks advance through streets lined with partially collapsed towers.
The video clips depict a battle in which forces uproot pockets of Hamas fighters and demolish the buildings they find them in, while gradually dismantling the movement’s network of tunnels.
Israel says it has killed several thousand fighters, including important mid-level commanders, while 46 of its soldiers were killed in Gaza. In recent days, the pace of Hamas’s rocket firing into Israel, which had been constant throughout the war, has diminished. It was not possible to independently confirm the details of the Israeli story and the extent of Hamas’ losses.
An Israeli commander in Gaza, named only as Lt. Col. Gilad, said in a video that his forces near Al-Shifa Hospital seized government buildings, schools and residential buildings, where they found weapons and eliminated fighters.
The army said it took control of the Gaza Legislative Council building, the Hamas police headquarters, and a complex housing the Hamas military intelligence headquarters. The captured buildings carried a high symbolic value, but their strategic value was not clear. It is believed that Hamas fighters are stationed in underground bunkers.
Israeli news websites showed pictures of soldiers raising the Israeli flag and military flags in celebration inside some buildings.
Deteriorating conditions in the south
Israel urged civilians in the north to flee to the south, but southern Gaza is no safer. Israel launches frequent air strikes across Gaza, hitting what it says are militant targets, but often 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 suffering from severe overcrowding.
the people Standing in line for hours For scarce bread and brackish water. Garbage piles up, sewage floods the streets, and taps run dry because there is no way to operate water systems. Israel has banned fuel imports since the beginning of the war, saying that Hamas would use it for military purposes.
In a camp outside a hospital in the central city of Deir al-Balah, people were walking through mud while stretching plastic sheets over flimsy tents.
“All these tents collapsed because of the rain,” said Iqbal Abu Al-Saud, who fled Gaza City with 30 of her relatives. “How many days will we have to deal with this?”
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, which is struggling to provide basic services to more than 600,000 people taking refuge in schools and other facilities in the south, said it could run out of fuel by Wednesday, forcing it to halt most aid operations, including bringing… Humanitarian aid. Limited supplies of food and medicine In from Egypt.
Jeffrey and Keith reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Amy Table in Jerusalem, and Wafaa al-Shurafa in Deir al-Balah in the Gaza Strip; Sami Magdy in Cairo. She contributed to this report.
Complete AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.
“Infuriatingly humble analyst. Bacon maven. Proud food specialist. Certified reader. Avid writer. Zombie advocate. Incurable problem solver.”