Israeli military raids largest operating hospital in Gaza

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Israeli forces said on Thursday they had raided the biggest functioning hospital in Gaza, as footage showed chaos, shouting and the sound of shooting in darkened corridors filled with dust and smoke.

Israeli military spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari described the raid on Nasser Hospital as “precise and limited” and said it was based on credible information of Hamas members hiding in the facility, and that they had kept hostages there and that bodies of hostages may still be there.

A spokesperson for Hamas called Israel’s claim “lies.”

Health authorities in the Hamas-run enclave said Israel had forced out dozens of staff, patients, displaced people and families of medical staff sheltering in Nasser Hospital. Some 2,000 arrived in the southern border city of Rafah overnight while others pushed north to Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza, they said.

The war began on Oct. 7 when Hamas led militants into Israel, killing 1,200 people, including several Canadians. According to Israeli tallies, 253 hostages were taken captive, with some 130 people still unaccounted for.

Israel’s air and ground offensive has since devastated tiny, crowded Gaza, killing 28,663 people, also mostly civilian, according to Palestinian officials, and forcing nearly all its more than two million inhabitants from their homes.

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Ayah Baloosha says she and others have nowhere safe to go in Rafah and live in fear of a potential Israeli incursion into the southern Gazan city. ‘These tents are so weak they can’t save us from rockets, from bombings, from even rain,’ she told freelance journalist Mohamed El Saife.

Hospital attacks alarm humanitarian groups

The medical charity Médecins San Frontières said Israel shelled Nasser Hospital in the early hours, despite having told medical staff and patients they could remain.

“Our medical staff have had to flee the hospital, leaving patients behind,” it said on social media platform X, adding a member of its staff was detained at an Israeli checkpoint set up to screen those leaving the compound.

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Fighting at the hospital comes as Israel faces growing international pressure to show restraint, after vowing to press its offensive into Rafah, the last relatively safe place in Gaza.

Attacks that have destroyed the majority of Gaza’s medical facilities have caused particular concern, including Israeli raids on hospitals in other cities, shelling in the vicinity of hospitals and the targeting of ambulances.

Crowds of people, mostly men, are shown in close proximity standing outdoors.
Palestinians crowd oustide a bakery to buy bread in Rafah on Thursday. (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

As extensive bombardment destroyed swathes of residential districts and forced most people from their homes, hospitals quickly became the focus for displaced people seeking shelter around buildings they thought more likely to be safe.

Israel accuses Hamas of regularly using hospitals, ambulances and other medical facilities for military purposes, and has aired footage taken by its troops that it says shows tunnels containing weapons below some hospitals.

The Israeli military said it apprehended various suspects at Nasser Hospital and that its operations there were continuing.

Hospital chaos

Hagari said one objective of the operation was to ensure the hospital could continue treating Gazan patients and “we communicated this in a number of conversations we had with the hospital staff,” adding there was no obligation to evacuate.

Gaza Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said the hospital would run out of fuel within the next 24 hours, threatening the lives of patients, including six in intensive care and three infants in the neonatal ward.

Hagari said Israel had arranged the transfer of medical supplies and fuel to the hospital in co-ordination with international organizations.

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Videos that Reuters verified on Thursday as having been filmed inside Nasser Hospital — though it could not verify from when — showed scenes of chaos and terror.

Men walked through dark corridors using the lights from their phones, with plaster dust swirling around and debris lying in the corridors, at one point wheeling a bed through a damaged area.

In one video, gunshots rang out and a doctor shouted, “Is there anyone still inside? There is gunfire, there is gunfire — heads down.”

Another man in a video said the Israeli army had surrounded the hospital and nobody could get out.

Mohammad al Moghrabi, who had been sheltering in the compound, said some people who attempted to leave on Wednesday were shot at and so returned to the hospital.

“This morning they said there was a safe passage, so we left, but it wasn’t safe. They approached us with a bulldozer and a tank, they insulted us and left us for four hours under the sun,” he said.

In another new operation, the Israeli military said it carried out an airstrike that killed a Hamas commander who had participated in the Oct. 7 attack.

Separately, medical officials said an Israeli strike killed three Palestinians in a car in Gaza City. Their identities were not immediately clear.

The Israeli military said a soldier was killed in fighting in southern Gaza, bring its total losses since ground incursions began on Oct. 20 to 235.

Exchange of strikes at Lebanon border

Meanwhile, deadly violence continues near the Israeli-Lebanese border. Hezbollah said it fired “dozens of rockets” at Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel on Thursday in retaliation for the killing of 10 civilians in two sets of Israeli strikes on southern Lebanon the previous day. It also announced five of its fighters had been killed in Thursday strikes.

The Israeli military said it had killed a commander in Hezbollah’s elite Radwan unit, along with his commander and another operative, in a “precise airstrike” in Nabatieh on Wednesday. It did not mention any civilian deaths.

A moving machine and several individuals are seen next to a heavily damaged building.
Civil defence and rescue workers remove rubble Thursday from a building that was attacked the previous night by an Israeli airstrike, in Nabatiyeh, south Lebanon. (Mohammed Zaatari/Reuters)

The United Nations urged a halt to what it called a “dangerous escalation” of the conflict, which has played out in parallel to the Gaza war and fuelled concerns of a wider confrontation between the Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel.

Hezbollah has said its campaign will stop only when Israel halts its offensive on the Gaza Strip.

The violence has killed more than 200 people in Lebanon, including more than 170 Hezbollah fighters, as well as around a dozen Israeli troops and five Israeli civilians, as well as uprooting tens of thousands on both sides.



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