Israel says it has killed 90 gunmen since raiding Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital this week


Israel’s military said on Wednesday it had killed around 90 gunmen in a raid on Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital, an allegation the militant Hamas group denied.

Al-Shifa, the Gaza Strip’s biggest hospital before the war, is now one of the few health-care facilities even partially operational in the north of the territory, and had also been housing displaced civilians.

“Over the past day, the troops have eliminated terrorists and located weapons in the hospital area, while preventing harm to civilians, patients, medical teams, and medical equipment,” the military said in a statement.

It also published the names and photographs of two Israeli soldiers killed in the operation.

Israel’s raid at the hospital began in the early hours of Monday. The military, which published videos of weapons stashes inside the facility, said it had sent in special forces supported by infantry and tanks, based on intelligence that the hospital was again being used by gunmen.

The Israeli military also said it had detained 160 people at the hospital. What Israel’s plans were for the detainees was not immediately clear.

WATCH l Few signs of increased aid as Rafah operation looms:

Netanyahu says Rafah offensive will happen despite growing pressure

Israel says its plan for an offensive on Rafah will move ahead, even as fears over starvation in Gaza grow and international organizations increase pressure on Israel to change course.

Hamas angrily rejects allegations

Ismail Al-Thawabta, director of Gaza’s Hamas-run government media office, said all of those killed had been wounded patients and displaced persons inside the hospital.

“The Israeli occupation army practises lying and deception in spreading its narrative as part of justifying its continuous and law-breaking crimes, which violate international law, international humanitarian law,” he said.

Reuters was unable to verify either account.

Israel faced fierce criticism last November when troops first raided Al-Shifa hospital. The troops uncovered tunnels there, which they said had been used as command and control centres by Hamas. Hamas and medical staff deny that the hospital is used for military purposes or to shelter fighters.

“What happens in Al-Shifa Hospital is a war crime and is part of the war of genocide conducted by the Israeli occupation,” said senior Hamas official Basem Naim, who has previously served as a health minister.

WATCH l Palestinians leave many behind as they head to uncertain future:

The Breakdown | Gaza evacuation flight + Marwan Barghouti

The National takes you on board a medical evacuation flight getting critically injured patients out of Gaza. Plus, why some say a jailed Palestinian leader could be key to reigniting the peace process.

Hospitals are protected buildings under international humanitarian law. But allegations that Al-Shifa is also being used for military purposes complicated the situation because that would also breach international law, UN officials have said.

Medical units that are used for acts harmful to the enemy — and which have ignored a warning to stop doing so — lose their special protection under international law.

The war was triggered by attacks on southern Israel on Oct. 7 led by Hamas in which 1,200 people were killed, according to Israeli tallies, including several Canadians

The Israeli government believes some 130 of 250 hostages remain in Gaza since October, but that at least 31 were dead. Over 100 people were repatriated in exchanges for Palestinian prisoners late last year.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel has responded with an air and ground assault that according to Gaza’s authorities has killed more than 31,923 Palestinians and wounded more than 74,096. The war has displaced most of the enclave’s 2.3 million people and reduced much of it to rubble.

Blinken returns for talks

Meanwhile, U .S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was returning to the region on Wednesday for his sixth visit since the start of Israel’s war with Hamas to push for a deal to secure a temporary pause in fighting and the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Blinken will meet Saudi leaders in Jeddah and Egyptian leaders in Cairo to discuss talks brokered by Egypt and Qatar on an agreement as well as efforts to get more aid into Gaza, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

An aerial view of a bridge shows dozens of vehicles behind a line of people holding signs over their head.
This aerial view shows activists and families of Israeli hostages blocking the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, calling on the government to reach a deal to free them from captivity. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

Blinken also said he would also pursue conversations on arrangements for governance, security and redevelopment of post-conflict Gaza.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work since January, particularly with our Arab partners, and we’ll be pursuing those conversations, as well as discussing what is the right architecture for lasting regional peace,” Blinken said at a news conference during a previous stop in Manila.

Blinken is not scheduled to visit Israel on this trip, unlike his similar trips since Oct. 7.

Tensions have heightened between U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, and the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who on Tuesday rebuffed Biden’s plea to call off a planned ground assault in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where more than a million displaced Palestinians are sheltering.

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here