Israeli forces yesterday pressed their offensive against Hamas in northern Gaza, battling militants around a hospital where thousands of patients and displaced people have been sheltering for weeks, raising Palestinian fears of another painful standoff and evacuation of a medical facility.
A shell struck the second floor of the Indonesia Hospital, killing at least 12 people, a medical worker inside the facility and the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said.
Both blamed Israeli forces. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.
The advance came a day after the WHO evacuated 31 premature babies from Al-Shifa Hospital. At least 28 were transported to Egypt yesterday. More than 250 critically ill or wounded patients remain stranded at the compound that Israeli forces stormed days ago.
The plight of Gaza’s hospitals is the focus of a battle of narratives over the war’s brutal toll on Palestinian civilians, thousands of whom have been killed or buried in rubble since the conflict was sparked by Hamas’ Oct. 7 rampage into southern Israel. In the wake of the assault, Israeli leaders vowed to eradicate Hamas, destroy its ability to rule Gaza and uproot its militant infrastructure.
Israel says Hamas uses civilians as human shields and operated a major command hub inside and beneath Al-Shifa, while critics say Israel’s siege and relentless aerial bombardment amount to collective punishment of the territory’s 2.3 million Palestinians.
Marwan Abdallah, the medical worker at the Indonesia Hospital, said that Israeli tanks were operating less than 200m from the hospital, and that Israeli snipers were on the roofs of nearby buildings.
As he spoke over the phone, the sound of gunfire could be heard in the background.
Abdallah said the hospital had received dozens of dead and wounded in airstrikes and shelling overnight.
Gaza health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said that about 600 patients, 200 healthcare workers and 2,000 displaced people are sheltering there.
“The occupation aims to evacuate the hospital, as it did in Al-Shifa,” he said.
In a separate development that could relieve some of the pressure on Gaza’s collapsing health system, dozens of trucks yesterday entered the territory from Egypt with equipment from Jordan to set up a field hospital.
Jordan’s state-run media said the field hospital in the southern town of Khan Younis would be up and running within 48 hours.
Babies evacuated from Gaza’s embattled Al-Shifa hospital arrived in Egypt, the country’s state-run media said, after the Palestinian Red Crescent rescue service said it was transporting 28 premature babies across the border.
It was not immediately clear where the other three babies who were evacuated from Al-Shifa were.
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