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Gaza officials say Israeli strikes hit hospitals, school amid US unease at death toll

Israel has faced growing calls for restraint in its month-long war with Hamas but says the militants, who attacked Israel on October 7 and took hostages, would exploit a truce to regroup. It says Hamas uses civilians as human shields and hides weapons in tunnels under hospitals, charges Hamas denies.

Gaza officials said missiles landed in the courtyard of the enclave’s biggest hospital, Al-Shifa, in the early hours, damaged the Indonesian Hospital and reportedly set fire to the Nasser Rantissi paediatric cancer hospital.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives to speak to the media in New Delhi, India.Credit: AP

The hospitals are in northern Gaza, where Israel says the Hamas militants who attacked it last month are concentrated, and are full of displaced people as well as patients and doctors.

Israeli tanks, which have been advancing through northern Gaza for almost two weeks, have taken up positions around the Nasser Rantissi, Children’s and Eye hospitals as well as the Al-Quds hospital, medical staff said earlier, raising the alarm.

“Israel is now launching a war on Gaza City hospitals,” Mohammad Abu Selmeyah, director of Shifa hospital, which was struck by missiles early on Friday, told Reuters.

Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said Israel had bombed Shifa hospital buildings five times. “One Palestinian was killed and several were wounded in the early morning attack,” he said by phone. Videos verified by Reuters showed scenes of panic and people covered in blood.

Selmeyah said later that at least 25 people were killed in Israeli strikes on al-Buraq school in Gaza City, where people whose homes had been destroyed were sheltering.

The Palestinian Red Cross said Israeli forces were shooting at Al-Quds hospital, and there were violent clashes, with one person killed and 28 wounded, most of them children.

Israeli army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht told an evening briefing the army “does not fire on hospitals. If we see Hamas terrorists firing from hospitals we’ll do what we need to do. We’re aware of the sensitivity (of hospitals), but again, if we see Hamas terrorists, we’ll kill them.”

Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said the Hamas headquarters was in Shifa hospital’s basement, which meant the hospital could lose its protected status and become a legitimate target.

An Israeli tank manoeuvres inside the Gaza Strip.

An Israeli tank manoeuvres inside the Gaza Strip.Credit: AP

Qidra said clearing out the hospitals was impossible.

“We are talking about 45 babies in incubators, 52 children in intensive care units, hundreds of wounded and patients, and tens of thousands of displaced people,” he said.

The White House said on Thursday that Israel agreed to pause military operations in parts of north Gaza for four hours a day, and the army said Palestinians on Friday were allowed to leave over seven hours along a road south, but there was no sign of a let-up in the fighting that has devastated the seaside enclave.

Palestinians said an Israeli missile struck the road used by people to flee south and Hamas-run media said three people were killed.

Sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and surrounding areas to alert people to Hamas rocket fire. Medics reported two women in Tel Aviv suffered shrapnel wounds from a salvo.

The armed wing of Hamas said on Friday it was still firing rockets and shells into Israel and fighting off troops in Gaza.

Gaza’s hospitals were struggling to cope, even before the conflict closed in on them, with medical supplies, clean water and fuel to power generators running out.

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In the wake of the blast at Shifa hospital, many people fled. Ayman al-Masri, wounded early in the war, told Reuters he had taken shelter there with his mother and sister 10 days ago.

“We want a truce, we want a solution, a political solution. Tens of our children are killed every day,” he said.

Palestinian officials said 11,078 Gaza residents had been killed as of Thursday in air and artillery strikes.

The World Health Organisation said colleagues had reported “intense violence” at Shifa hospital and “significant bombardment” on Rantissi hospital. The Palestinian health ministry said later that Rantissi hospital was reported to be on fire after suffering a direct hit.

Palestinians injured in Israeli air raids arrive at Nasser Medical Hospital in Khan Yunis.

Palestinians injured in Israeli air raids arrive at Nasser Medical Hospital in Khan Yunis.Credit: Getty

“Israel … targeted at dawn a number of hospitals in the Gaza Strip,” Palestinian Health Minister Mai Alkaila said. A person who said they were a member of staff of Nasser Children’s Hospital posted an appeal on social media saying they were surrounded.

Indonesia said parts of the Indonesian Hospital in northern Gaza had been damaged in overnight explosions nearby.

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday called for the respect and protection of medical facilities, patients and healthcare workers in Gaza, saying the healthcare system in Gaza had reached a “point of no return”.

Reuters

More coverage of the Hamas-Israel conflict

  • Cascading violence: Tremors from the Hamas attacks and Israel’s response have reached far beyond the border. But what would all-out war in the Middle East look like?
  • The human cost: Hamas’ massacre in Israel has traumatised – and hardened – survivors. And in Gaza, neighbourhoods have become ghost cities.
  • “Hamas metro”: Inside the labyrinthine network of underground tunnels, which the Palestinian militant group has commanded beneath war-ravaged Gaza for 16 years. The covert corridors have long provided essential channels for the movement of weapons and armed combatants.
  • What is Hezbollah?: As fears of the conflict expanding beyond Israel and Hamas steadily rise, all eyes are on the militant group and political party that controls southern Lebanon and has been designated internationally as a terrorist group. How did it form and what does Iran have to do with it?

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https://www.smh.com.au/world/middle-east/gaza-officials-say-israeli-strikes-hit-hospitals-school-amid-us-unease-at-death-toll-20231111-p5ej7p.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world Gaza officials say Israeli strikes hit hospitals, school amid US unease at death toll

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