Human rights groups say repeated attacks on medical facilities, doctors and ambulances should be investigated as war crimes.
Israeli snipers killed at least 21 Palestinians after they opened fire on displaced civilians who were trying to reach Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.
Al Jazeera's Hani Mahmoud, reporting from Rafah, said on Friday that snipers had surrounded the hospital and were “shooting every moving object” as people tried to reach it from two densely populated residential neighborhoods near the facility.
He added, “The area surrounding the hospital is very dangerous, and has turned into a combat zone,” noting that the hospital is the only place in Khan Yunis where only some water remains.
Human rights groups said the Israeli army's repeated attacks on medical facilities, doctors, nurses, paramedics and ambulances should be investigated as war crimes.
Human Rights Watch noted that “hospitals and other medical facilities are civilian objects that enjoy special protection under international humanitarian law or the laws of war.”
Mahmoud said this represented a “new trend in targeted killings” by Israeli snipers, who shoot Palestinians in the streets. People inside the medical facility will also become easy targets by trying to recover bodies.
He added, “The drones also targeted a group of young men who gathered on the roof of the hospital.” Mahmoud said: “Due to the communications outage, they were trying to get internet signals on their mobile phones so they could communicate with family members.”
Nasser Hospital, along with Al Amal Hospital, is the largest in Khan Yunis. The medical facility has been under siege for weeks, with the Israeli army saying it has “encircled” the area and intensified its attack from the air, land and sea.
Many Palestinians, forcibly displaced by previous Israeli attacks in other areas, have few options inside Nasser Hospital, with a limited number of medical staff and patients, all of whom have little to eat or drink.
The Israeli army has destroyed or severely damaged dozens of medical facilities across the Gaza Strip since the start of the war on October 7.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said on Friday that Al-Quds Hospital, north of Gaza City, also suffered major damage as a result of Israeli tank shelling.
Red Crescent spokesman Raed Al-Nims said: The occupation army deliberately targeted the association’s headquarters and vehicles to put them out of service.
This comes while hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced in the past few weeks to flee from Khan Yunis to Rafah in the south, which is located on the border with Egypt.
More than half of Gaza's 2.3 million people now reside in Rafah, the last place previously designated by the Israeli military as a “safe zone.” Israel said it plans to launch a ground attack on Rafah soon, ignoring US and UN warnings of a “disaster.”
“I think we should push to avoid tragedy rather than push to facilitate tragedy,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Friday when asked whether he would push to open the border with Egypt to displace Palestinians. From the Gaza Strip.
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