- LATEST DEVELOPMENTS:
- Surgeon at Al Shifa hospital says 500 patients are still there
- Israel says it is not firing at the hospital and people can leave
- Palestinian Red Cross reports intense shooting at Al-Quds hospital
- Islamic Jihad fighters say they are clashing with Israeli forces near hospitals
GAZA/JERUSALEM, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Palestinian officials said a baby died and dozens more patients were at risk from Israeli fire around Gaza’s main hospital on Saturday, while Israel said it had killed a Hamas militant , which had prevented another hospital from being evacuated.
Israel says doctors, patients and thousands of evacuees who have sought refuge in hospitals in northern Gaza must leave so it can deal with Hamas gunmen, who it says have placed command centers under and around them.
Hamas refuses to use hospitals in this way. Medical staff say patients could die if they are moved, and Palestinian officials say Israeli gunfire makes it dangerous for others to leave.
“It’s totally a war zone, it’s a completely terrifying atmosphere here in the hospital,” Ahmed al-Mokhallalati, a senior plastic surgeon at Al Shifa hospital, told Reuters.
“It’s a continuous bombardment for more than 24 hours now, nothing stopped, you know, it’s all from the tanks, from the street, from the airstrike.”
Most of the hospital staff and people staying at the hospital had left, he said, but 500 patients were still there.
The Israeli military denied that it had endangered the hospital.
“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 Col. Moshe Tetro, head of coordination and liaison in COGAT, the Israeli Defense Forces. ministry in charge of civil affairs in Gaza.
Tetro said he was in constant contact with the hospital’s director. “I told him several times: we can coordinate for anyone who wants to leave the hospital safely.”
Hospital director Mohammad Abu Selmeyah had said late Friday that the hospital was exposed to Israeli attacks and that the wounded were in a dangerous situation.
A spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Health said on Saturday that Israeli shelling had killed a patient in intensive care.
Ashraf Al-Qidra, who represents the health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza, said Israeli army snipers on the roofs of buildings near the hospital occasionally fire into the medical complex, restricting people’s ability to move.
“We are besieged 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 fuel ran out, Qidra said, adding: “As a result, a newborn baby died inside the incubator where there are 45 babies.”
CRASHING ALL NIGHT
Residents said Israeli troops, which launched a war to eliminate Hamas after it staged a bloody cross-border attack on October 7, had clashed with Hamas gunmen throughout the night in and around Gaza City, where the hospital is located.
The military wing of Hamas-allied Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds Brigades, wrote on social media: “We are involved in violent clashes near Al Shifa Medical Complex, Al-Nasr neighborhood and Al-Shati camp in Gaza. “
The Al-Nasr neighborhood is home to several major hospitals.
An Israeli military spokesman was asked at a briefing if troops planned to enter Gaza’s hospitals at some point.
“The hospitals must be evacuated to deal with Hamas,” the spokesman said. “We intend to deal with Hamas, which has turned hospitals into fortified positions.”
Hamas says it does not use hospitals for its military purposes and has asked the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to send missions to Shifa to investigate the Israeli claims.
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 have said is out of order and surrounded by tanks.
“(Ahmed) Siam held about 1,000 residents from Gaza hostage at Rantissi Hospital and prevented them from evacuating south for their safety,” an Israeli military statement said.
It 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 had been killed in an Israeli attack on the school, which was full of evacuees.
‘BREW, WE CAN LOSE THEM’
Israel said rockets were still being fired from Gaza into southern Israel, where it has said about 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 taken hostage by Hamas militants last month. It 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 Oct. 7, about 40% of them children.
Qidra, spokesman 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 are afraid we may lose them in the coming hours,” he said.
At another hospital, Al-Quds, medical teams worked on patients by torchlight, according to video footage released by the Palestinian Red Crescent.
“Israeli tanks and military vehicles surround the Al-Quds hospital from all sides, with artillery shelling that shakes the building. There is intense shelling at the hospital and the number of injuries is not yet known,” the aid organization said.
Israel said it had increased the number of places it said it would stop firing for hours at a time to allow Gazans to move south, and that many had done so.
“We have seen over the last three days a mass evacuation of at least 150,000 people,” a military spokesman said. “And we have seen more people evacuate today as the humanitarian pause in the Jabalya area has been implemented.”
A US official said a week ago that between 350,000 and 400,000 people remained in northern Gaza.
Meeting in Saudi Arabia, Muslim and Arab countries called for an immediate end to military operations in Gaza, declaring at a joint Islamic-Arab summit that Israel bears responsibility for “crimes” against Palestinians.
Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Maytaal Angel in Jerusalem; additional reporting by Crispian Balmer, Ari Rabinovitch, Adam Makary, Omar Abdel-Razek and other Reuters agencies; Written by Matt Spetalnick and Philippa Fletcher; editing by Grant McCool, Simon Cameron-Moore, William Maclean and Giles Elgood
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