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Israeli forces' entry into Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital raises concerns about patients’ lives

Israeli forces entry into Gazas Al-Shifa Hospital raises concerns about patients’ lives

In a pre-dawn operation on Wednesday, Israel's military entered Gaza's largest hospital, Al-Shifa, in what it termed a "precise and targeted" raid against Hamas. The incursion follows a series of clashes and territorial gains in northern Gaza, where Israeli forces reportedly captured key landmarks, including the legislature building and police headquarters.

The operation unfolded after Israel claimed broader control of northern Gaza, asserting that Hamas used Al-Shifa Hospital as a central hub for its operations. The military alleges that the hospital conceals a Hamas command centre and accuses the group of using the facility and tunnels beneath it for military operations and hostage-holding. Hamas denies these claims.

The fate of Al-Shifa has become a matter of international concern, with the hospital facing worsening conditions amid a global call for a humanitarian ceasefire after five weeks of Israeli assaults on Gaza. The facility currently houses between 600 and 650 inpatients, 200 to 500 health workers, and around 1,500 displaced people seeking shelter.

The United States, while expressing concern, emphasized its disapproval of striking hospitals. A White House official stated that they "do not want to see a firefight in a hospital where innocent people… are caught in the crossfire." The U.S. intelligence reportedly supported Israel's conclusions about Hamas using Al-Shifa for military purposes.

Hamas, in response to the U.S. announcement, accused it of giving a "green light" for Israel's raid on the hospital and held Israel and U.S. President Joe Biden fully responsible for the operation. The incursion has raised questions about Israel's interpretation of international laws protecting medical facilities and displaced civilians.

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, expressed deep concern over the "dramatic loss of life" in hospitals, calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. Medical officials in Gaza report over 11,000 confirmed deaths from Israeli strikes, with around 40% being children. Additionally, more than two-thirds of Gaza's population, totalling 2.3 million people, have been displaced, facing shortages of essential supplies.

As the situation in Al-Shifa unfolds, there are reports of Israeli forces entering the hospital's emergency department building and searching the basement. Witnesses claim that soldiers fired a smoke bomb, causing people to suffocate.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) defended their actions, stating that the operation was based on intelligence information and operational necessity. The military asserted that it had given Gaza authorities 12 hours to cease military activities within the hospital, a call that went unanswered.

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TAGS:Israel Palestine ConflictIDFAl-Shifa Hospital
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