The Hamilton Spectator

Fighting rages near Gaza’s biggest hospital

Israeli forces storm through facility for second day, claiming to have killed at least 50 militants


Explosions and shootings shook the Gaza Strip’s biggest hospital and surroundin­g neighbourh­oods as Israeli forces stormed through the facility for a second day Tuesday. The military said it had killed 50 Hamas militants in the hospital, but it could not be independen­tly confirmed that the dead were combatants.

The raid was a new blow to the Shifa medical complex, which had only partially resumed operations after a destructiv­e Israeli raid in November. Thousands of Palestinia­n patients, medical staff and displaced people were trapped inside the sprawling complex Tuesday, as heavy fighting between troops and Hamas fighters raged in nearby districts. Details were scarce, with communicat­ions from inside the hospital nearly impossible.

“It’s very hard right now. There’s heavy bombardmen­t in the area of Shifa, and buildings are being hit. The sound of tank and artillery fire is continuous,” Emy Shaheen, who lives near the hospital, said in a voice message with repeated booms of shelling audible in the background. She said a large fire had been raging for hours near the hospital.

The Israeli military said it raided Shifa early Monday because Hamas fighters had grouped in the hospital and were directing attacks from inside. The claim could not be confirmed, and the Hamas media office said all those killed in the assault were civilians. But the surge in fighting in Gaza City underscore­d Hamas’ continued presence in northern Gaza months after Israeli ground troops claimed they largely had control over the area.

Israel launched its offensive in Gaza vowing to destroy Hamas after the group’s Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel. More than 31,800 Palestinia­ns have been killed in the bombardmen­t and offensive since. Much of northern Gaza has been levelled, and an internatio­nal authority on hunger crises warned on Monday that 70 per cent of people there were experienci­ng catastroph­ic hunger and that famine was imminent.

The mayhem in the north came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his determinat­ion to invade Gaza’s southernmo­st town, Rafah — one of the last major towns not targeted by a ground assault.

A day earlier, in their first phone call in a month, U.S. President Joe Biden urged Netanyahu not to carry out a Rafah operation, urging “an alternativ­e approach” to more precisely target Hamas fighters there.

The United States, Israel’s closest ally, has expressed concern over attacking Rafah because some 1.4 million people from across Gaza have crowded into the area.

It’s very hard right now. There’s heavy bombardmen­t in the area of Shifa, and buildings are being hit.


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