Thursday May 23, 2024

Heavy fighting rages near Gaza hospitals

Published : 14 Nov 2023, 00:55

  DF News Desk
Displaced people are seen at a temporary shelter in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, on Nov. 13, 2023. Photo: Xinhua by Rizek Abdeljawad.

Heavy fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants continued outside hospitals in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday, forcing thousands to flee while some chose to continue sheltering within, reported Xinhua.

An Israeli military spokesperson told Xinhua that the intense battles against Hamas currently "include the area surrounding the Al Shifa Hospital but not the hospital itself."

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday that the strikes "have exacerbated the already critical circumstances" and that "regrettably, the hospital is not functioning as a hospital anymore."

The Palestine Red Crescent Society reported that attempts to evacuate the al-Quds Hospital, the second-largest hospital in Gaza, failed due to "continuing shelling and shooting."

According to a statement posted by the Red Crescent on social media, a Red Crescent evacuation convoy, accompanied by the International Committee of the Red Cross, returned after setting off Monday from Khan Younis towards al-Quds Hospital. "The convoy was forced to return due to the dangerous conditions in the Tal al-Hawa area, where the hospital is located," said the Red Crescent. "The medical staff, patients and their companions are still trapped inside the hospital without food, water or electricity," it said.

Israel denied it was attacking hospitals. In a statement, the military said that a militant squad embedded itself in the area of the al-Quds Hospital and shot RPG fire and gunfire from the hospital entrance at soldiers. At least 21 militants were "subsequently eliminated," according to the statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that Israel is determined to press ahead with its attacks against militants in Gaza. "This is not 'an operation,' here we go all the way until the absolute victory," he reaffirmed.

Israel is facing increasing pressure from international bodies and worldwide mass protests, urging a ceasefire and the protection of civilians.

"The pressure (on Israel) is not very high, but it is increasing," Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told journalists in a briefing earlier in the day. "We have 2-3 weeks before the heavy international pressure (for a ceasefire) will begin," said Cohen.

Also today, Israel's Shin Bet internal security agency said in a statement that forces killed Yaakub A'ashur, head of the Anti-Tank Missile Array of Hamas' Khan Yunis Brigade. "He took part in the planning and execution of attacks against IDF soldiers," the statement read. The forces also killed Mohammed Khamis Dababash, who according to the Shin Bet was a senior Hamas operative and a former head of Hamas' military intelligence.

According to the military, the two were among "dozens" of Hamas commanders killed since Israel launched its war against Hamas on Oct. 7, following Hamas' deadly attack on communities in southern Israel, which killed about 1,200 people.

Hamas' government media office in Gaza announced that the Palestinian death toll had risen to 11,240, while more than 28,000 others were injured.

The cross-border fire continued on Israel's northern front. Military Chief Herzi Halevi told reporters that Israel is preparing to act to stop the rockets. "We are preparing strongly with action plans for the north. Our mission is to bring security in such a way that the residents of the north will feel safe to return to their homes," he said.