Israel strikes hit Gaza hospital: Palestinian officials

Heavy fighting rages near Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.

Heavy fighting rages near Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. Photo: Getty

Israeli air strikes have hit three Gaza hospitals and a school, killing at least 22 people, and a ground battle is under way at another hospital, Palestinian officials say as Israel’s forces take on Hamas in the heart of the enclave.

Officials said missiles landed in the courtyard of Gaza’s biggest hospital, Al-Shifa, in the early hours, damaged the Indonesian Hospital and reportedly set fire to the Nasser Rantissi paediatric cancer hospital.

The hospitals are in northern Gaza, where Israel says the Hamas militants who attacked it last month are concentrated, and are full of displaced people as well as patients and doctors.

Israel says Hamas is using them as human shields, which the group denies.

Israeli tanks, which have been advancing through northern Gaza for almost two weeks, have taken up positions around the Nasser Rantissi, Children’s and Eye hospitals as well as the Al-Quds hospital, medical staff said ealier, raising the alarm.

“Israel is now launching a war on Gaza City hospitals,” Mohammad Abu Selmeyah, director of Shifa hospital, which was struck by a missiles early on Friday, told Reuters.

Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said Israel had bombed Shifa hospital buildings five times.

“One Palestinian was killed and several were wounded in the early morning attack,” he said by phone.

Videos verified by Reuters showed scenes of panic and people covered in blood.

Selmeyah said later that at least 20 people were killed in Israeli strikes on Al-Buraq school in Gaza City, where people whose homes had been destroyed were sheltering.

Israel says it does not aim its attacks at civilians but that Hamas has tunnels beneath hospitals.

The Palestinian Red Cross said Israeli forces were shooting at Al-Quds hospital and there were violent clashes, with one person killed and 28 wounded — most of them children.

Israel did not immediately comment on the reports.

It says it does not aim its attacks at civilians and tries to protect them but that Hamas militants have hidden command centres and tunnels beneath Shifa and other hospitals.

“While the world sees neighbourhoods with schools, hospitals, scout groups, children’s playgrounds and mosques, Hamas sees an opportunity to exploit,” the Israeli military said.

Hamas says such statements are untrue.

With Palestinian officials reporting more than 10,000 dead, Israel has faced growing calls for restraint in its month-old war on Hamas but says the militants, whose October 7 attack made all Israelis fear for their lives, would exploit a ceasefire.

The Israeli military said it struck more than 15,000 “terror targets” in the Gaza Strip and located 6000 weapons since the beginning of the war.

The armed wing of Hamas said on Friday it was still firing rockets and shells into Israel and fighting off troops in Gaza.

Sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and surrounding areas to alert people to Hamas rocket fire.

Medics reported two women in Tel Aviv suffered shrapnel wounds from a salvo.

The Israeli government said people would have all day to move to the south of Gaza.

Hamas-affiliated media cited health officials as saying three people were killed on a road used by people fleeing south.

Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy said the Hamas headquarters was in Shifa’s hospital’s basement, which meant the hospital could lose its protected status and become a legitimate target.

Qidra said clearing out the hospitals was impossible.

“We are talking about 45 babies in incubators, 52 children in intensive care units, hundreds of wounded and patients, and tens of thousands of displaced people,” he said.

The Palestinian health ministry said later that Rantissi hospital was reported to be on fire after suffering a direct hit.

“Israel… targeted at dawn a number of hospitals in the Gaza Strip,” Palestinian Health Minister Mai Alkaila said.


Topics: Gaza, Israel
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