Two and a half weeks after sending tanks and ground troops into northern Gaza, Israeli forces have raided al-Shifa Hospital, where thousands of patients and displaced Palestinians are sheltering.
Mohammed Zaqout, the director of hospitals in Gaza, said Israeli tanks were inside the medical compound on Wednesday and that soldiers had entered buildings, including the emergency and surgery departments.
The Israeli army claims that Hamas uses hospitals as cover for its fighters and has set up a command centre in and beneath al-Shifa, the largest medical facility in the besieged territory. Both Hamas and hospital staff deny the Israeli allegations.
Meanwhile, the Israeli military’s attention is also focused on parts of southern Gaza, said Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum, reporting from Khan Younis. “In the last couple of hours, three residential houses in Khan Younis city have been bombarded,” he said late on Wednesday.
While confrontations between Israeli troops and Palestinian fighters rage in eastern Gaza, Israeli soldiers are trying to move “deeper” into the south of the Strip, he said.
This is “terrifying people”, Abu Azzoum added, many of whom have fled their homes in the north and central areas of Gaza for what Israel said were safer regions in the south.
Gaza’s Ministry of Health has been struggling to update casualty figures as Israeli forces have increasingly targeted hospitals and allied services in the besieged enclave.
On Wednesday, at least 14 people were killed and dozens of others injured in three major strikes. Two of the strikes were on homes in Khan Younis, and the third was on a home in the central Gaza region. At least three people were killed in an attack on Salhi residential towers in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.
More than 11,200 Palestinians — two-thirds of them women and minors — have been killed since Israel’s war on Gaza began on October 7. About 2,700 people have been reported missing.