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Israel carries out operation on Gaza's largest hospital

The Israeli army announced Monday to carry out an operation on the al-Chifa hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip where are "tens of thousands" of displacement according to Hamas, with witnesses on site confirming that AFP heard bombings.

Israeli soldiers “are currently carrying out a targeted operation in the area of ​​al-Chifa hospital” in Gaza City (north), reported Monday morning an Israeli army press release, adding that “the operation is based on information indicating the use of the hospital by high-ranking Hamas terrorists.”

At the scene, witnesses confirmed AFP “air operations” on the al-Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City where the health establishment is located in which “shrapnel” is said to have fallen.

Residents in the neighborhood claimed that “more than 45 Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers” had entered al-Rimal. Some also report “fighting” around the hospital.

The Israeli army speaks through loudspeakers to residents, asking them to stay at home while “drones shoot at people in the streets near the hospital”, according to witnesses on site interviewed by AFP.

Israel carries out operation on Gaza's largest hospital

Injured people are treated at al-Chifa hospital on January 25, 2024 in Gaza City in the Gaza Strip. © AFP – –

The press service of the government of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas claimed that the al-Chifa hospital was “bombed”, specifying that “tens of thousands of displaced people” were in the building.

“The attack on the al-Shifa medical complex with tanks, drones and weapons, and the shooting inside it, is a crime of war”, added the same source.

– The offensive in Rafah “will take place” –

Since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, triggered by a bloody attack by this Palestinian Islamist movement, the Israeli army has accused Hamas of using health establishments as command centers.

The Israeli army entered al-Chifa hospital on November 15 before withdrawing. She said she found Hamas “ammunition, weapons and military equipment” there, which the movement denied. Israel also said it had discovered a 55-meter-long tunnel under the establishment used according to it “for terrorism”.

Israel carries out operation on Gaza's largest hospital

A man is treated at al-Chifa hospital on February 29, 2024 in Gaza City in the Gaza Strip. © AFP – –

The hospital is no longer operating at a minimum and with a reduced team. Less than a third of hospitals in the Gaza Strip are operational, and only partially, according to the UN.

Across the besieged coastal territory, the human toll of the war between Israel and Hamas continues to rise with, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health, 31,645 dead since October 7.

That day, Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza carried out an unprecedented attack in southern Israel, during which at least 1,160 people were killed, most of them civilians, according to an AFP count from official sources.

According to Israel, around 250 people were kidnapped and 130 of them are still being held in Gaza, among whom 33 are believed to have died, a toll including a 22-year-old soldier whose death was announced on Sunday by the Israeli army.

In retaliation, Israel vowed to destroy Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007, which it considers a terrorist organization like the United States and the European Union.

Israel carries out operation on Gaza's largest hospital

Children play among the ruins of a mosque destroyed in an Israeli bombardment, March 17, 2024 in Rafah in the Gaza Strip © AFP – SAID KHATIB

Most of the 1.7 million displaced by the war according to the UN have found refuge in the city of Rafah (south) stuck on Egypt's closed border and daily bombarded by the army Israeli.

While reaffirming his determination to launch a ground military offensive in Rafah, “the last bastion of Hamas” according to Israel, Mr. Netanyahu assured Sunday that such operation will not be carried out “by leaving the population locked in place”.

Israel carries out operation on Gaza's largest hospital

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference on March 17, 2024 in Jerusalem © POOL – Leo Correa

The international community fears the prospect of such an assault. Washington, Israel's main ally, reiterates its opposition to any offensive in Rafah which would endanger the civilians taking refuge there.

“No international pressure will prevent us from achieving all the objectives of our war (…) We will act in Rafah, it will take a few weeks but it will take place,” declared Mr. Netanyahu, according to his services.

– “Let the bombs stop” –

Israel carries out operation on Gaza's largest hospital

Smoke is visible above Khan Yunis on March 17, 2024 from Rafah in the Gaza Strip. © AFP – SAID KHATIB

The Palestinians “need the bombs to stop”, declared Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, pleading on Sunday for a ceasefire in Gaza. Residents “desperately need food, medicine and shelter”, he added.

Israel controls the entry of ground aid into Gaza, which remain very insufficient in view of the immense needs of the 2.4 million inhabitants, the vast majority of whom are threatened with famine according to the UN.

According to the NGO Oxfam, Israel “deliberately” prevents humanitarian aid from entering Gaza, whether food or medical equipment, in violation of international humanitarian law.

Israel carries out operation on Gaza's largest hospital

Palestinians fill containers with water on March 17, 2024 in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. © AFP – SAID KHATIB

In a report published Monday, the NGO denounces “unfairly ineffective” aid inspection protocols or even “attacks against humanitarian personnel, aid structures and humanitarian convoys” .

The mediating countries – United States, Qatar, Egypt – are trying to reach a new truce after the one-week truce at the end of November.

M. Netanyahu said he would not accept a deal “that leaves Israel weak and unable to defend itself.”

Hamas said it was ready, in a new proposal, to a six-week truce, during which 42 hostages – women, children, the elderly and the sick – would be released in exchange for 20 to 50 Palestinian prisoners for each hostage released. It also calls for “the withdrawal of the army from towns and populated areas”, the “return of the displaced” and the entry of 500 aid trucks per day into Gaza, according to one of its executives.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116