Israeli forces storm the main Khan Yunis Hospital after ordering its evacuation

Rafah (Gaza Strip) – Israeli forces stormed the main hospital in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, hours after a patient was killed and six others wounded by Israeli fire inside the complex. The Israeli army said it was a limited operation to search for the remains of hostages held by Hamas.

The raid came one day after The army sought to evacuate thousands of displaced people People who took refuge in Nasser Hospital in the city of Khan Yunis, the epicenter of the Israeli offensive against Hamas in recent weeks. The war shows no sign of ending, and the risk of a broader conflict is growing as Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah intensify their attacks after a deadly exchange on Wednesday.

The army said it had “credible intelligence” that Hamas had taken hostages at the hospital and that the remains of the hostages may still be inside. Admiral Daniel Hagary, the chief military spokesman, said forces were conducting a “meticulous and limited” operation there and would not forcefully evacuate doctors or patients. Israel accuses Hamas of using hospitals and other civilian facilities To protect its fighters.

Released hostage He told the Associated Press Last month, she was detained with more than twenty other female prisoners in Nasser Hospital. International law prohibits targeting medical facilities, however They could lose that protection If it is used for military purposes.

Shaaban Tabsh, a nurse at the hospital, said that the forces were searching several hospital buildings after ordering all medical staff and patients to move to an old building in the complex. Doctors were unable to provide treatment to patients in the building, which was not properly equipped.

“The situation for patients is difficult,” Tabsh told the Associated Press.

Separately, Israel launched air strikes on southern Lebanon for the second day after that As a result, 10 civilians and three Hezbollah fighters were killed On Wednesday, in response to a missile attack that killed an Israeli soldier and injured several others.

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This was the fiercest exchange of fire along the border since the beginning of the war between Israel and Hamas. Israel and Hezbollah – an ally of Hamas – exchange fire on a daily basis. Which increases the risk of a broader conflict.

Hezbollah did not claim responsibility for the missile attack that occurred on Wednesday. Sheikh Nabil Qawuq, a prominent member of the group, said it was “prepared for the possibility of expanding the war” and would meet “escalation with escalation, displacement with displacement, and destruction with destruction.”

Meanwhile, negotiations on a ceasefire in Gaza. It seems to have stoppedIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to do so Continue the attack Until Hamas is destroyed and dozens of hostages are taken Militant attack on October 7.

Panic scenes in the hospital

Nasser Hospital was the latest focus of Israeli military operations that have devastated Gaza's health sector as it struggles to treat a steady stream of wounded in the daily bombing. Israeli forces, tanks and snipers surrounded the hospital for at least a week, with heavy gunfire surrounding it. Several people have been killed inside the complex in recent days, according to health officials.

During the night, an airstrike hit one of the hospital's wards, and a video showed medics scrambling to move patients on stretchers through a corridor filled with smoke or dust. A paramedic used a mobile phone flashlight to illuminate a dark room where a wounded man screamed in pain as gunfire echoed outside. The AP was unable to verify the authenticity of the video but the footage was consistent with its reporting.

Dr. Khaled Al-Sir, one of the remaining surgeons at Nasser Hospital, told the AP that the strike killed one patient and wounded six others, all of whom were already being treated for previous wounds.

He added: “The situation is escalating every hour and every minute.”

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Hours later, the forces moved to the hospital complex, staff said. Footage posted online showed patients huddled together in the old hospital building, with a row of beds lining the hallway.

Doctors Without Borders International, also known by its French acronym MSF, said its staff had to flee the hospital on Thursday, leaving patients behind, and one staff member was detained at an Israeli checkpoint just outside the facility.

The army had ordered the evacuation of Nasser Hospital and its surrounding areas last month. But as with other health facilities, medics said patients were unable to safely leave or move elsewhere, and there were still thousands of people displaced by fighting elsewhere.

“People have been forced to live in an impossible situation,” said Lisa Machiner of Doctors Without Borders.

“Stay at Nasser Hospital against the orders of the Israeli army and become a potential target or exit the complex into a horrific scene where bombings and evacuation orders are part of daily life.”

There is no end in sight to the war that has been going on for months

The war began when Hamas militants broke through Israel's formidable defenses on October 7 and stormed several communities, killing about 1,200 people and wounding others. He took another 250 hostages. More than 100 prisoners were released during the ceasefire last year in exchange for the release of 240 Palestinian prisoners.

About 130 prisoners remain in Gaza, and a quarter of them are believed to be dead. Netanyahu has come under intense pressure from the hostages' families and the wider public to reach a deal to secure their freedom, but his far-right coalition partners could bring down his government if he is seen as too lenient with Hamas.

Israel responded to the October 7 attack by firing rockets One of the bloodiest and most destructive military campaigns In modern history. More than 28,000 Palestinians have been killed, 80% of the population has fled their homes, and a quarter of them suffer from hunger amid a worsening humanitarian catastrophe. Large areas in northern Gaza, the first target of the attack, It was completely destroyed.

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Hamas has continued to attack Israeli forces throughout Gaza, and says it will not release all remaining prisoners until Israel ends its offensive and withdraws. Hamas also demands the release of a large number of Palestinian prisoners, including senior militants.

Netanyahu rejected these demands, describing them as “delusional.” He said that Israel would soon expand its attack on the city of Rafah, located in the far south of the Gaza Strip, on the Egyptian border. More than half of Gaza's population of 2.3 million He took refuge in Rafah After fleeing fighting elsewhere in the coastal enclave.

At least 28,663 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, most of them women and children, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants. More than 68 thousand people were injured in the war.

The air strikes that occurred late Wednesday in central Gaza killed at least 11 people, including four children and five women, according to hospital records. Relatives gathered around the bodies wrapped in white shrouds outside Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the city of Deir al-Balah in the center of the country, before the remains were placed in a truck to be transported for burial.

One man struggled to let go, lying on the ground holding one of the bodies in the truck and crying.

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Marou reported from Beirut and Liedman from Jerusalem. Associated Press writer Karim Chehayeb in Beirut contributed to this report.

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Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

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