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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Israel raids Gaza’s largest functioning hospital

An “undetermined number” of people were killed and injured in Thursday’s operation, Medecins Sans Frontieres has said

Israeli troops on Thursday stormed Al Nasser hospital in southern Gaza, the largest still-functioning health facility in the besieged enclave, according to both the Israeli military and officials from the Hamas-run Palestinian health ministry.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement issued through its spokesperson Daniel Hagari that it had received “credible intelligence” to support claims that Hamas “held hostages at the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis.”

Read more: Israeli strikes kills about dozen in Lebanon : Hezbollah vows response

The IDF also indicated that it believed Hamas militants to be hiding inside the facility, though it did not immediately release evidence to back up the claim. A spokesperson for Hamas dismissed the IDF statement as “lies.”

Aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres said in a statement that it had been informed by hospital staff of a “chaotic situation” within the hospital, “with an undetermined number of people killed and injured.”

Thursday’s raid came hours after the IDF issued an order for thousands of displaced civilians who had been seeking shelter in or around the medical facility to leave the area. Fire on Wednesday directed at the hospital killed one patient and wounded seven more, hospital surgeon Dr Khaled Alserr told Euronews.

Palestinian health ministry spokesperson Dr Ashraf Al Qedra said, according to the BBC, that the IDF military operation had forced hospital administrators to “keep intensive-care patients without medical equipment.” Al Qedra added in a statement that early Thursday evacuations of the hospital of patients and medical staff had been carried out “under bombardment and threats.”

Israel has frequently accused Hamas of seeking to use hospitals to conceal its fighters, and claims that Hamas has set up command centers beneath medical facilities. The Israeli military said on Thursday that its forces had apprehended an unspecified number of suspects at Al Nasser.

Thursday’s raid followed warnings from global leaders that Israel should not launch military offensives in the southern city of Rafah, where an estimated 1.5 million displaced Gazan residents are seeking shelter. Israeli forces had previously instructed civilians to flee to Rafah, which borders Egypt.

Around 1,200 people, most civilians, were killed in the incursion, Israeli officials have said, while about 250 were seized as hostages. Palestinian health officials say that at least 28,600 people have so far died in Israel’s siege of the coastal enclave. Israel has said it will not relent until it has destroyed Hamas’ capability to function and secured the release of all remaining hostages.

Read more: Israel caught ‘faking’ Gaza aid