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Gaza hospitals and humanitarian buildings at the center of Israeli attacks

TEL AVIV — The confrontation between Israeli troops and Hamas militants who Israel says are sheltering in buildings designated for humanitarian purposes intensified Monday, as the death toll soared and residents of Gaza’s most vulnerable continued to be caught in the crossfire.

These types of buildings, including hospitals, schools, mosques and those belonging to humanitarian groups or international organizations, have increasingly been caught in the crossfire during Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza, concentrating on Hamas infrastructure in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Over the past three days, at least 32 people, including three children from the intensive care unit, have died at al-Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, surrounded by Israeli troops, Medhat Abbas, gatekeeper, said Monday. -spokesperson for the Gaza Ministry of Health. .

He said at least 100 bodies were decomposing in the hospital complex – including around 50 inside the hospital and another 60 in the morgues which are without electricity – and that the ministry was unable to update the death toll because there was a lack of access and communication with the hospital center. hospitals in the Gaza Strip.

He added that without electricity to power the incubators, all the premature babies were rounded up to keep them warm. “I hope they stay alive despite the disaster this hospital is going through. »

On Sunday, the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that without electricity for three days, al-Shifa “no longer functions as a hospital.” He insisted that health facilities should be safe havens and not “scenes of death, devastation and despair”.

Al-Quds Hospital, the second largest in the enclave, was surrounded by Israeli forces on Monday and unable to evacuate its remaining 300 patients and medical staff due to Israeli shelling and gunfire, Nebal Farsakh said. spokesman for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, which runs the hospital, said from Ramallah in the West Bank.

The hospital has been almost completely cut off from communications for six days, said Farsakh, whose team had communicated with Al Quds workers via a radio transmission connected to the hospital’s ambulance system but lost connection Monday morning, she said.

The Israeli military said in a statement that 21 militants had been killed and that there had been a series of incidents in which “a terrorist squad moved into the area of ​​Al-Quds hospital, shooting from the entrance to the hospital on IDF soldiers, and was subsequently eliminated.

A guest house of the UN refugee agency UNRWA in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip was hit by Israeli naval strikes on Sunday, as staff were emptied 90 minutes ago.

Israeli hunt for Hamas besieges al-Shifa hospital in Gaza

“The disregard for the protection of civilian infrastructure, including UN facilities, hospitals, schools, shelters and places of worship, speaks to the level of horror that civilians in Gaza experience on a daily basis,” said the Commissioner General of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini.

Hamas has denied Israeli claims that it is hiding under the hospital. Medical staff said the large compound is home to a growing number of injured Gazans, for whom resource-strapped doctors are struggling to provide life-saving care.

The health ministry’s Abbas said “al-Shifa hospital is completely under siege” and still housing 8,000 displaced people with dwindling food supplies. Although the Israeli army has assured the population of safe passage on a certain road cleared of tanks, “the planes target anyone who tries to leave the hospital,” he said.

Last month, IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari told reporters that Hamas used the hospital complex as its main command center to house its top leaders and arsenals and that it used the “4,000 personnel from the center as a human shield”.

The hospital has “several underground complexes, used by the leaders of the Hamas terrorist organization to direct their activities, and a tunnel that reaches the hospital and allows entry to Hamas headquarters without passing through the hospital said Hagari, who also shared an audio recording. recordings which he claimed attested to the underground complex run by Hamas.

The hospital is, according to the Israeli army, a strategic focal point in the Israeli war in Gaza. The Washington Post was unable to independently verify the documents shared.

Phone calls by Post journalists to al-Quds doctors in recent days have gone directly to voicemail. Farsakh said the hospital evacuation plan called for a six-vehicle convoy, two of which were ambulances, the fleet having been diminished by fuel shortages and strikes. The International Committee of the Red Cross participated in the evacuation, she said. Alyona Synenko, a spokesperson for the organization, declined to comment.

“The convoy is still waiting for the situation to stabilize around the hospital so that it can reach it and begin the evacuation process,” the Palestinian Red Crescent said on X, former Twitter.

Farsakh said thousands of displaced Gazans have fled the hospital on foot in recent days as nearby fighting grew more intense and supplies dwindled. Last week, the hospital housed at least 12,000 people.

Munir al-Bursh, director general of the Gaza Ministry of Health, said 200 families living near al-Shifa hospital cannot leave their homes and 36 premature babies in al-Shifa complex are suffering from serious complications health.

The Israeli military, for its part, said Hamas had prevented the hospital from accepting 300 liters of fuel that Israeli soldiers had hand-delivered to it for the medical emergency.

According to the health ministry’s Abbas, the hospital declined the offer and “requested that the fuel be delivered through the Red Cross,” adding that the hospital’s diesel consumption was 500 liters per hour.

Since the IDF ground invasion of the Gaza Strip began on October 27, three weeks after a Hamas attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and led to the captivity of about 240 others, at least 11,180 people were killed in Gaza – although this number has not been updated since Friday.

Hospitals have become the symbol of the war for the inhumanity of the enemy – with Israelis accusing Hamas of using civilians as human shields and Palestinians accusing the Israeli army of using deadly urban warfare in revenge for the civilian population.

The World Health Organization has recorded at least 137 attacks on health care operations in Gaza over the past 36 days, UN agencies said in a joint statement on Sunday, resulting in the deaths of at least 521 people, including 16 health workers on duty. . He called the attacks “unacceptable” and a “violation of international humanitarian law and human rights conventions.”

But other civilian buildings have also become targets as close-quarters fighting rages. In a statement on Saturday, the United Nations Development Program shared reports of the bombing of its compound in Gaza City. It said the facility was run by its program of assistance to the Palestinian people until October 13, when U.N. workers left the site. He said he received information on November 6 that at least “several hundred people seeking refuge had entered the compound.” The statement said: “Civilians, civilian infrastructure and the inviolability of UN facilities must be respected and protected at all times. »

In a message posted to X this weekendUNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said there were reports of “deaths and injuries among those seeking shelter in our compound” after the bombing.

When asked whether the Israeli military was responsible for the attack, an IDF spokesperson said Hamas bore full responsibility for the loss of civilian lives. He neither confirmed nor denied Israel’s responsibility for the attack on the UNDP office, but warned that Hamas assets “were deliberately integrated near, within or under Hamas facilities.” UN”.

On Monday night, the IDF continued to conduct raids on the outskirts of the nearby Shati refugee camp, where they said Hamas had hidden large stockpiles of weapons and explosive devices inside the Abu Bakr mosque and in a children’s room in a house belonging to a senior citizen. Islamic Jihad activist, among others.

Dadouch brought from Beirut, Shepherd from Jerusalem and Balousha from Amman, Jordan. Hajar Harb in London contributed to this report.

Israel-Gaza War

Israeli tanks, amid explosions and falling shells, surrounded Gaza City’s overcrowded hospitals on Friday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was “not seeking to occupy Gaza,” marking a change in tone after his previous comments that sparked concern within the Biden administration. Understand what is behind the Israel-Gaza war.

Hostages: Officials say Hamas militants kidnapped around 239 hostages in a highly organized attack. Four hostages have been freed – two Americans and two Israelis – as families remain hopeful. A freed Israeli hostage has told of the “spider’s web” of the Gaza tunnels in which she was held.

Humanitarian aid: The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said it had received more than 370 trucks carrying food, medicine and water into the Gaza Strip via Egypt’s Rafah crossing. However, PRCS said, there is no authorization yet to import fuel to power the enclave’s hospitals, water pumps, taxis and more.

Israelo-Palestinian conflict : The Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas, has a complicated history and its leaders have long been at odds with the Palestinian Authority, the U.S.-backed government. Western Bank. Here is a timeline of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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