© Reuters. Smoke rises over Gaza, seen from southern Israel, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, November 10, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Maytaal Angel
GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Palestinian officials said on Saturday that a baby had died and dozens of other patients were threatened by Israeli fire around Gaza’s largest hospital, while Israel said it had killed a Hamas activist who had prevented the evacuation of another hospital.
Israel says doctors, patients and thousands of evacuees who have taken shelter in hospitals in northern Gaza must leave so they can take on Hamas gunmen who they say have placed command centers under and around them.
Hamas denies using hospitals in this way. Medical staff say patients could die if they are moved, and Palestinian officials say Israeli fire makes it dangerous for others to leave.
“It’s totally a war zone, there’s a totally scary atmosphere here at the hospital,” Ahmed al-Mokhallalati, a senior plastic surgeon at Al Shifa Hospital, told Reuters.
“It’s been a continuous bombardment for over 24 hours now, nothing has stopped, you know, it’s all coming from the tanks, from the street, from the airstrikes.”
Most of the hospital staff and people housed at the hospital have left, he said, but 500 patients are still there.
The Israeli army denied putting the hospital in danger.
“There are clashes between IDF (Israel Defense Forces) troops and Hamas terrorists around the hospital. There is no shooting at the hospital and there is no siege.” , said Colonel Moshe Tetro, head of coordination and liaison at COGAT, Israeli defense. ministerial body responsible for civil affairs in Gaza.
Tetro said he was in constant contact with the hospital director. “I told him several times: we can coordinate for everyone who wants to leave the hospital safely.”
Hospital director Mohammad Abu Selmeyah said Friday evening that the hospital was under Israeli attacks and that the injured were in a dangerous situation.
A Palestinian Health Ministry spokesperson said Saturday that Israeli bombing killed a patient in intensive care.
Ashraf Al-Qidra, who represents the Health Ministry in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, said Israeli army snipers, stationed on the roofs of buildings near the hospital, were firing from from time to time on the medical complex, limiting people’s ability to move.
“We are under siege inside the Al Shifa medical complex and the (Israeli) occupation has targeted most of the buildings inside,” he told Reuters by telephone.
The hospital suspended operations after a fuel shortage, Qidra said, adding: “As a result, a newborn died inside the incubator, where 45 babies were.”
CLASHES ALL NIGHT
Residents said Israeli troops, who went to war to eliminate Hamas after it staged a bloody cross-border attack on October 7, clashed throughout the night with Hamas gunmen in and around the town of Hamas. Gaza, where the hospital is located.
The military wing of Hamas ally Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds Brigades, posted on social media: “We are engaged in violent clashes near the Al Shifa medical complex, the Al-Nasr neighborhood and from Al-Shati camp in Gaza. »
The Al-Nasr district is home to several large hospitals.
An Israeli army spokesperson was asked during a briefing whether troops planned to enter Gaza hospitals at any point.
“Hospitals must be evacuated in order to confront Hamas,” the spokesperson said. “We intend to attack Hamas which has transformed hospitals into fortified positions.”
Hamas says it does not use hospitals for military purposes and has called on the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to send missions to Shifa to investigate the Israeli allegations.
Israel earlier said it had killed what it called a Hamas “terrorist” who it said had prevented the evacuation of another hospital in the north, which Palestinian officials say is out of service and surrounded by tanks.
“(Ahmed) Siam held approximately 1,000 Gazans hostage at Rantissi Hospital and prevented them from evacuating to the south for their safety,” an Israeli army statement said.
He said Siam was killed along with other militants while hiding in the “al Buraq” school. Palestinian officials told Reuters on Friday that at least 25 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli strike on the school, which was filled with evacuees.
BABIES AT RISK IN HOSPITAL
Israel said rockets were still being fired from Gaza into southern Israel, where around 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 taken hostage by Hamas militants last month. He reduced the death toll by 200 on Friday.
Palestinian officials said Friday that 11,078 Gazans had been killed in air and artillery strikes since October 7, about 40 percent of them children.
Qidra, the spokesperson for Gaza’s health ministry, said there was no electricity at Al Shifa hospital, putting babies and other vulnerable patients at risk.
“We are working hard to keep them alive, but we fear losing them in the coming hours,” he said.
In another hospital, Al-Quds, medical teams treated patients by torchlight, according to video images released by the Palestinian Red Crescent.
Israel said it had increased the number of locations in which it would stop firing for several hours at a time so Gazans could move south and that many had done so.
“Over the past three days, we have seen a mass evacuation of at least 150,000 people,” a military spokesperson said. “And we saw more people evacuating today as the humanitarian pause was implemented in the Jabalya region.”
In London, at least 300,000 pro-Palestinian protesters marched through the city, and police arrested nearly 100 far-right counter-protesters to prevent them from ambushing the main rally. More than 20,000 people took part in a pro-Palestinian rally in Brussels.
Meeting in Saudi Arabia, Muslim and Arab countries called for an immediate end to military operations in Gaza, rejecting Israel’s justification of its actions against the Palestinians as self-defense.