- Recent Developments:
- US Defense Secretary Austin has said he expects Israel to conduct operations within the law of armed conflict
- The UN said 69,000 liters of fuel entered Gaza from Egypt on Sunday
Gaza/Jerusalem, Nov. 20 (Reuters) – 28 premature babies evacuated from Gaza’s largest hospital were flown to Egypt for emergency treatment on Monday, while Palestinian officials and the WHO said 12 people were killed in another Gaza hospital surrounded by Israeli tanks. .
The newborns were in northern Gaza’s Al Shifa hospital, and many more died after their incubators were knocked over amid collapses in medical services during Israel’s military offensive on Gaza City.
Israeli forces seized Shifa last week to search what they said was a tunnel network owned by the Islamist group Hamas. Hundreds of patients, medical staff and evacuees left Shifa over the weekend, with doctors saying they had been evacuated by troops and Israel saying the departure was voluntary.
Live footage broadcast by Egypt’s Al Qahera television showed medical staff carefully lifting babies from ambulances into mobile incubators, which were then wheeled across the car park towards other ambulances.
The children were taken to a hospital in Rafah, on the southern border of Hamas-ruled Gaza, on Sunday so their conditions could be confirmed before being transferred to Egypt. World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said 12 people had been flown to Cairo.
A WHO spokeswoman said all the evacuated children were “fighting serious infections”.
Eight babies have died since doctors in Shifa raised an international alert this month about 39 premature babies at risk due to a lack of infection control, clean water and medicine in the neo-natal ward.
12 died in a hospital surrounded by Israeli tanks
Gaza’s health ministry said at least 12 Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded when they opened fire inside a compound surrounded by Israeli tanks at an Indonesian hospital funded by Jakarta.
Health officials said 700 patients and staff were under Israeli fire.
Palestinian news agency WAFA said the facility in the northeastern Gaza city of Beit Lahia had been hit by artillery fire. Hospital staff denied that there were any armed militants on the premises.
WHO chief Tedros said he was appalled by the attack, citing unspecified reports that 12 people had been killed, including patients.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said troops returned fire at the militants in the hospital while taking “a number of measures to minimize harm” to non-combatants.
“Overnight, terrorists opened fire from inside an Indonesian hospital in Gaza at IDF troops operating outside the hospital,” the IDF told Reuters. “In response, IDF troops directly targeted the specific source of enemy fire. No shells were fired at the hospital.”
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, speaking to reporters during a visit to Ukraine, reaffirmed the position of the United States, Israel’s staunch ally, on the need for humanitarian aid for Gaza’s citizens.
“We have said every step of the way that our expectation is that the Israelis will conduct their actions in accordance with the law of armed conflict,” Austin said. “… they must do everything, or everything, to get humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza.”
The UN said 69,000 liters of fuel entered Gaza from Egypt on Sunday, after Israel confirmed it would begin allowing supplies of around 70,000 liters a day, “well below the minimum requirements for essential humanitarian operations”.
Like all other health facilities in northern Gaza, the Indonesian hospital has largely suspended operations but is still sheltering patients, staff and displaced residents.
Israel has ordered an evacuation from the north, but thousands of civilians remain. The enclave has run out of food, fuel, medicine and water under a six-week Israeli siege.
Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said its clinic in Gaza City was also set on fire on Monday.
In the south, hundreds of thousands of Gazans who fled north of the enclave have taken refuge, according to Gaza health officials, after two Israeli attacks on homes in Rafah killed at least 14 Palestinians.
According to medical sources from Gaza’s Nasser Hospital, at least five people were killed and 10 wounded in an Israeli airstrike on an apartment complex in the southern end of the Khan Yunis area. There was no immediate Israeli comment.
Heavy fighting surrounds large refugee camp
Witnesses also reported heavy fighting between Hamas gunmen and Israeli forces as they tried to advance into the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, home to 100,000 people.
Palestinian doctors say Israel’s repeated bombardment of Jabalia, an urban sprawl of Gaza City that grew out of a Palestinian refugee camp from the 1948 Israeli-Arab War, has killed scores of civilians.
The Israeli military released a statement with video of airstrikes and troops going door-to-door in Gaza, saying they had killed three Hamas company commanders and a group of Palestinian militants, without giving specific locations.
Meanwhile, Hamas said on its Telegram account that it had fired a barrage of missiles at Tel Aviv. Witnesses also said rockets were fired into central Israel.
Despite continued fighting, US and Israeli officials said a Qatar-brokered deal to free some of the hostages was nearing completion.
US President Joe Biden has said he believes a deal is close.
“We’re closer now than we’ve ever been,” White House spokesman John Kirby said of the hostage agreement.
About 240 hostages were taken by Hamas militants on October 7 during a deadly cross-border attack into Israel. The Hamas attack killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli calculations, the worst day in Israel’s 75-year history.
Since then, Gaza’s Hamas-run government says at least 13,300 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 5,600 children and 3,550 women, by relentless Israeli bombardment.
Two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been made homeless, according to the United Nations.
“We are witnessing civilian casualties unparalleled and unprecedented in any conflict since I have been Secretary-General,” UN chief Antonio Guterres, who took office on January 1, 2017, told reporters.
Additional reporting by Reuters Bureau by Claudia Danios in Dubai, Emma Farge and Raju Gopalakrishnan in Geneva, Mark Heinrich and Nick MacPhee Editing by Peter Graff, William McLean and Sharon Singleton.
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