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Alarm as Israel raids Gaza hospital in war on Gaza

Eyewitnesses describe conditions inside hospital as 'horrific'

By AFP - Nov 16,2023 - Last updated at Nov 16,2023

Two young Palestinian children lie on a stretcher at the Al Aqsa hospital following the Israeli bombardment of in Deir Al Balah, in the central Gaza Strip on Wednesday (AFP photo)

GAZA STRIP, Occupied Palestine — Israeli troops on Wednesday raided and then combed through Gaza's main hospital, raising fears for thousands of patients and other civilians trapped inside.

Both Israel and its top ally the United States say the Palestinian fighters have a command centre below the Al Shifa complex, a charge denied by Hamas and leaders of the hospital that has become a focal point in the 40-day-old war.

Israeli soldiers, some wearing face masks and shooting in the air, ordered young men to surrender, a journalist in contact with AFP reported, as the army said it conducted a "precise and targeted" operation at the facility.

About 1,000 male Palestinians, their hands above their heads, were in the vast hospital courtyard, some of them stripped naked by Israeli soldiers checking them for weapons or explosives, the journalist said.

The United Nations has said it estimates that at least 2,300 people, patients, staff and displaced civilians, are inside and may be unable to escape because of fierce fighting.

Witnesses have described conditions inside the hospital as horrific, with medical procedures taking place without anaesthetic, families with scant food or water living in corridors and the stench of decomposing corpses filling the air.

The health ministry in Gaza says Israel’s ensuing aerial bombardment and ground offensive have killed 11,320 people, mostly civilians, including thousands of children.

International concern over the fate of the people inside the hospital has The situation in Gaza’s other hospitals is also dire, with the World Health Organisation saying 22 of 36 are not functional due to a lack of generator fuel, damage or combat.

Patients, the wounded, their families, and the medical teams trapped in Al Quds hospital were evacuated Tuesday, said the Palestinian Red Crescent, adding the facility had been under “siege” for 10 days.

The head of the UN children’s agency described on Wednesday the “devastating” scenes she witnessed during a visit to Gaza, urging the parties to the conflict to “stop this horror”.

The humanitarian crisis also includes 1.5 million people who, according to the UN, have fled southwards after Israel told them to leave the northern half of the territory.

Even though Gazans have been urged to flee south, strikes there have steadily claimed lives and destroyed homes.

“All of a sudden, all we could see was flames. We were all buried under the rubble, no one could see anyone else,” said Ali Abu Jazar, who survived a strike in Rafah, in the far south of Gaza.

“We started yelling to let them know ‘we’re here, underneath you,’ so they began clearing the rubble to rescue us,” he added.

A trickle of aid has made it into the besieged territory in the five weeks of war, and crucially fuel for generators has been in short supply.

Just hours after receiving its first delivery of fuel since the Hamas-Israel war began on October 7, the UN warned Wednesday its operations in Gaza were on the brink of collapse.

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