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HomeNewsIsrael forces storm Shifa Hospital in Gaza

Israel forces storm Shifa Hospital in Gaza

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JERUSALEM — Israeli tanks surrounded the Gaza Strip’s largest hospital Wednesday as troops launched their long-anticipated raid in pursuit of the Hamas militants they accuse of working a warren of tunnels underneath the ability.

The forces streamed into the ability earlier than daybreak, all however severing outdoors communication with the sufferers, medical employees and displaced households trapped in al-Shifa Hospital by day of preventing outdoors. By the tip of the day, the tanks had withdrawn however troops remained contained in the compound, Israel Protection Forces and hospital employees mentioned.

Israeli officers, who for weeks have warned that Hamas makes use of medical amenities together with al-Shifa as bases for its operations, described a “exact and focused” mission.

Palestinian officers referred to as it a “crime towards humanity” that left terrified civilians to unsure fates in a medical facility already struggling with out water or gasoline after days of intense bombardment by the encroaching forces. Hamas and hospital employees deny accusations that the militants function there.

With the collapse of communications and no entry for journalists, The Washington Submit was unable to independently affirm circumstances on the bottom.

The raid drew alarm from worldwide humanitarian teams. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the top of the World Well being Group, mentioned the company had “misplaced contact once more with well being personnel on the hospital” Wednesday morning and was “extraordinarily nervous” for the protection of the ability and its sufferers. U.N. support chief Martin Griffiths mentioned he was “appalled” by the studies: “Hospitals are usually not battlegrounds.”

Nationwide Safety Council spokesman John Kirby mentioned Tuesday that Hamas and different militants “used some hospitals within the Gaza Strip, together with al-Shifa, and tunnels beneath them, to hide and help their navy operations and to carry hostages.”

Hamas criticized the operation and accused the White Home of giving Israel a “inexperienced gentle” to enter the hospital and endanger civilians.

Kirby instructed reporters Wednesday that the US “didn’t give an okay” to Israel’s raid of the hospital, because it doesn’t give prior approval to Israel’s tactical operations. “The USA is just not concerned in these procedures,” he mentioned.

“We imagine hospitals must be protected,” he added, echoing earlier White Home statements.

Israeli Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a navy spokesman, instructed reporters that the raid had uncovered weapons, a laptop computer pc and different gadgets he mentioned signaled a Hamas presence on the hospital. A video launched by the navy confirmed round a dozen weapons, some grenades and ammunition, and tactical gear akin to physique armor and backpacks. The navy didn’t current proof of tunnels or a command middle.

The Submit couldn’t independently confirm the claims.

The Gaza Well being Ministry mentioned it obtained a warning from the IDF shortly earlier than the operation, which many had predicted. Israel had mentioned Hamas exercise on the hospital was a prime goal in its struggle towards the militants who carried out a lethal shock assault in southern Israel final month. Greater than 1,200 Israelis have been killed within the Oct. 7 assault, triggering Israel’s response. Greater than 11,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed within the ensuing air and floor struggle, in accordance with the Gaza Well being Ministry. The ministry mentioned final week it might not feasibly rely the useless.

A satellite tv for pc picture captured by Planet Labs on Tuesday at 1:45 p.m. native time confirmed Israeli troops gathered at a number of areas close to al-Shifa Hospital not lengthy earlier than their raid on the hospital started. The Israeli navy mentioned its “exact and focused operation towards Hamas” started round 2 a.m. native time Wednesday.

By Wednesday night, Israeli tanks had pulled again from the hospital however troopers remained within the complicated, the IDF mentioned in an announcement. Gaza hospitals chief Munir al-Bursh, reached by phone contained in the hospital, confirmed the continued presence of Israeli troops. Israeli forces have been stationed in 4 buildings within the hospital complicated, he mentioned, whereas dozens of tanks remained by the doorway.

“They referred to as me and requested me to return down to fulfill the commander however I refused and instructed them you may come to arrest me however I’m not coming,” Bursh mentioned. He mentioned medical amenities have been broken, two mechanical engineers have been arrested and a few medical employees have been subjected to strip searches.

Omar Zaqout, head of al-Shifa’s emergency division, instructed Al Jazeera that the hospital had endured an evening of nonstop gunfire and explosions earlier than Israeli forces “blasted” into the compound, sending shrapnel into buildings the place sufferers and displaced households have been sheltering.

The near-blackout circumstances allowed solely a partial, murky take a look at what was happening contained in the compound. Cellphone numbers for a lot of medical employees have been disconnected or rang unanswered. Plastic surgeon Ahmed al-Mokhallalati instructed The Submit he was hiding with 15 colleagues within the hospital’s primary surgical constructing. His abstract: “We’re surviving.”

The complicated contains separate buildings for various medical specializations. The scene was so harmful and communications so weak, Mokhallalati mentioned, that docs holed up in a single constructing had no concept what was happening within the others. “We’re not transferring round within the constructing,” he mentioned. “It’s completely dangerous to maneuver between buildings or look by means of the window, as there are snipers and somebody might shoot you.”

Mokhallalati mentioned troopers confronted “no resistance in any respect.” He mentioned he had by no means seen an armed fighter with Hamas or some other group within the hospital. “I and my colleagues wouldn’t put our lives in danger as a result of somebody with a gun is round,” he mentioned. “There are solely civilians right here.”

The Israeli navy mentioned troops “encountered explosives and terrorist squads” whereas battling their approach into al-Shifa and killed 5 militants. Bursh, the Gaza hospitals director, mentioned Israeli troopers had fanned out to go looking the compound.

By noon, there was no signal that any of the greater than 240 Israeli hostages seized by Hamas and its allies on Oct. 7 had been discovered on the website, in accordance with Israeli Military Radio, a military-run outlet. “No friction has been recorded to date between the troops and any of the sufferers or medical employees,” the report mentioned.

Finding hostages wasn’t the principle goal of the hospital raid, an IDF worldwide spokesman instructed CNN. Israeli Lt. Col. Richard Hecht instructed the channel the main target was on “intelligence and dismantling sure capabilities that we had intelligence on.”

Sara Netanyahu, the spouse of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wrote to first girl Jill Biden on Wednesday requesting assist liberating Israeli abductees in Gaza. Within the letter, she confirmed for the primary time that one of many hostages had given start in captivity.

Sara Netanyahu sought to invoke a maternal bond, writing of 32 kids among the many hostages, and requested Biden to “converse out” on their behalf. She referred to a pregnant captive who had given start and requested Biden to “think about, as I do, what have to be going by means of that younger mom’s thoughts as she is being held together with her new child by these murderers.”

Later Wednesday, a video recording posted by Reuters confirmed thick smoke wafting by means of one part of the hospital as medical employees wheezed and coughed. Some pulled scrubs and masks over their mouths as they moved by means of broken hallways. The recording confirmed sufferers, together with one who gave the impression to be a baby, being wheeled on stretchers by means of clouds of smoke.

Gaza Well being Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra mentioned Tuesday that no ambulances had been allowed to succeed in the hospital since Friday. Round 700 sufferers, greater than 400 well being employees and round 3,000 displaced individuals have been on the compound, the WHO mentioned Tuesday.

Israeli and U.S. intelligence allege that Hamas operates a subterranean command middle on the complicated, utilizing the injured and displaced as human shields.

Qudra, talking on a uneven line from the complicated early Wednesday, instructed The Submit that solely civilians have been on the hospital. He rejected claims on the contrary.

Alyona Synenko, a spokeswoman for the Worldwide Committee of the Purple Cross, instructed The Submit that the help group had obtained many calls from individuals contained in the hospital asking for assist to evacuate. She mentioned the ICRC couldn’t safely coordinate their motion. Individuals calling “say in the event that they open the door they danger being shot, because the preventing has been relentless,” she mentioned.

Al-Shifa and different Palestinian medical amenities are struggling underneath more and more grave circumstances, overwhelmed by casualties and hampered by the shortage of primary companies. Greater than half of the hospitals in Gaza are not practical, the WHO has mentioned.

A gasoline tanker entered Gaza by way of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on Wednesday for the primary time for the reason that struggle started. Thomas White, the Gaza director for UNRWA, the U.N. company for Palestinian refugees, confirmed on social media that the group had obtained about 23,000 liters of gasoline from Egypt, “restricted by Israeli authorities” for use just for automobiles to move support. It couldn’t be used for water programs or hospitals.

The one-time supply amounted to “solely 9% of what we want each day to maintain lifesaving actions,” White mentioned.

Till Wednesday, Israel had refused to permit gasoline into Gaza, saying Hamas and different armed teams might divert it for navy functions, U.N. authorities mentioned.

UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini mentioned the one cargo, with the restrictions on its use, was insufficient to the necessity. “Gas for vans solely is not going to save lives anymore,” he mentioned. “Ready longer will value lives. Way more gasoline is required. …

“It’s appalling that gasoline continues for use as a weapon of struggle.”

Ishaq Sidr, the Palestinian minister of communications and knowledge know-how, mentioned the whole Gaza Strip might go incommunicado throughout the subsequent 24 hours on account of gasoline shortages to energy cell and web strains.

“We’re near fully stopping the availability of all communications companies until the mandatory gasoline is secured,” he mentioned.

“Slicing off communications means slicing off all misery messages from Gaza,” he mentioned. There will probably be “no protection of all of the destruction.”

Dadouch reported from Beirut, Allam from Cairo and Harb from London. Adela Suliman in London and Hazem Balousha in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.



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