Palestinians say Israel besieges two more Gaza hospitals, demands their evacuation

Israeli forces besieged two more Gaza hospitals on Sunday, pinning down medical teams under heavy gunfire, the Palestinian Red Crescent said, and Israel said it had captured 480 militants in continued clashes at Gaza’s main Al-Shifa hospital.

Israeli forces say hospitals in the Palestinian enclave where war has been raging for over five months have frequently been used as strongholds of Hamas militants harboring bases and weapons. Hamas and medical staff deny this.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said one of its staff was killed when Israeli tanks suddenly pushed back into areas around Al-Amal and Al-Nasser hospitals in the southern city of Khan Younis, amid heavy bombardment and gunfire.

Israeli armored forces sealed off Al-Amal Hospital and carried out extensive bulldozing operations in its vicinity, the Red Crescent said in a statement, adding: “All of our teams are in extreme danger at the moment and are completely immobilized.”

It said Israeli forces were now demanding the complete evacuation of staff, patients and displaced people from Al-Amal’s premises and were firing smoke bombs into the area to force out its occupants.

The Israeli military said its forces were hitting “infrastructure” in Khan Younis used as gathering points for many militants. Hamas denies using hospitals for military ends and accuses Israel of war crimes against civilian targets.

The health ministry in Gaza said dozens of patients and medical staffers had been detained by Israeli forces at Al-Shifa in Gaza City in the enclave’s north that has been under Israeli control for a week.

Al-Shifa is one of the few healthcare facilities even partially operational in north Gaza, and – like others – had also been housing some of the nearly 2 million civilians – over 80 percent of Gaza’s population – displaced by the war.

Reuters has been unable to access Gaza’s contested hospital areas and verify accounts by either side.

Khan Younis residents said Israeli tanks also advanced in a western neighborhood near Al-Nasser Hospital under cover of heavy fire from the air and ground.

In Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost town on the Egyptian border town that has become the last refuge for half of Gaza’s uprooted population, an Israeli air strike on a house killed seven people, health officials said.

At least 32,226 Palestinians have been killed, among them 84 in the past 24 hours, and 74,518 injured in Israel’s air and ground offensive into the densely populated coastal territory since Oct. 7, the health ministry said in a Sunday update.

The war was triggered when Hamas-led militants broke through the border fence into southern Israel in a shock rampage on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages back to Gaza, according to Israeli tallies.

Concerted mediation by Qatar and Egypt, backed by the United States has so far failed to secure a Hamas-Israel ceasefire, prisoner releases and unfettered aid to Gaza civilians facing famine, with each sides sticking to core demands.

Hamas wants any truce deal to include an Israeli commitment to end the war and withdraw forces from Gaza. Israel has ruled this out, saying it will keep fighting until Hamas is eradicated as a political and military force.

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