Gaza – An Israeli strike completely destroyed one of the buildings of Shifa Hospital, the largest medical facility in the Gaza Strip. This was reported by the AFP agency today, citing a statement from the health authorities in the Strip, which is controlled by the Palestinian radical movement Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the hospital had rejected an Israeli offer to supply the fuel needed to resume operations.
“The two-story building of the heart diseases department was completely destroyed in the air attack,” said the Deputy Minister of Health in Gaza, Júsuf Rič, adding that the hospital received five hits and some other departments were also damaged. According to him, there are currently 650 patients and 15,000 refugees on the hospital grounds, there are “dozens of bodies” and “hundreds of injured”.
AFP notes that the Palestinian side’s claim could not be independently verified, but at least one witness at the hospital confirmed the attack. The Israeli army did not immediately respond to a question about the intervention of the hospital.
Fierce fighting between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians has been raging around the Shifa hospital for the past few days. The Israeli military claims that the Palestinian radical movement Hamas uses civilians as human shields and hides its infrastructure in and under the hospital. Both Hamas and the staff of the hospital, which had to suspend operations due to the critical situation, reject these claims.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said overnight that it had lost contact with the facility. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that according to the latest information, the hospital is under siege by Israeli tanks. According to him, there are also reports that some people who left the hospital were shot and lost their lives.
According to AFP, the Israeli army claims that its soldiers are stationed around the hospital and that they are allowing civilians who have taken refuge in the hospital complex to escape the fighting through a special corridor. The Times of Israel server reported that the military was giving instructions to civilians on how to get out of the hospital safely. According to the army, Palestinian militants opened fire on soldiers who were supervising the evacuation of civilians towards the south of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said today that Hamas did not take advantage of Israel’s offer to supply fuel to the hospital. “We just offered fuel to Šífa Hospital, they refused it,” Reuters quoted the Prime Minister as saying. Netanyahu did not give details. According to Palestinian officials, cited by the AP agency, several patients, including newborns, died as a result of the power outage at the hospital.
Israel is subject to criticism in connection with the events surrounding the hospital, including from its allies. White House security adviser Jake Sullivan said today that the United States does not want to see fighting in hospitals where innocent people die. “We have been in active consultation with the Israeli military on this matter,” he told CBS News.
Israelis are conducting military operations in the Gaza Strip in response to an October 7 attack in which Hamas militants attacked southern Israel, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Authorities in Gaza say that over 11,000 Palestinians, including a number of civilians, have been killed in retaliatory Israeli attacks since then. Israel declared the goal of its operation to overthrow the 16-year-long rule of Hamas in Gaza and destroy the military capabilities of this movement.
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