Israeli special forces enter the besieged Nasser Hospital

Israeli special forces enter the besieged Nasser Hospital

According to several American and British media outlets, Israeli special forces entered the Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza.

• Also read: Netanyahu promises a “powerful” operation in Rafah “after” the civilians leave

• Also read: Lebanon: At least five members of the same family were killed in an Israeli raid

• Also read: Canada warns Israel against “catastrophic” operation in Rafah

New deadly Israeli strikes targeted southern Gaza on Thursday, where Israel vowed to carry out a “powerful” ground operation in the crowded city of Rafah despite increasing international pressure.

After more than four months of war against Hamas across the besieged Palestinian territory, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now wants to destroy the Islamist movement's “last bastion” in Rafah, which has become the last refuge for hundreds of thousands of civilians who have fled the fighting.

As mediating countries continue negotiations in Cairo to reach a ceasefire and the release of hostages held in Gaza, calls are growing around the world about the potentially devastating consequences of such an operation.

With the United Nations and the United States, Israel's main ally, in particular demanding “guarantees” for the safety of civilians, Australia, Canada and New Zealand warned Israel on Thursday of a “catastrophic” operation. » in Rafah.

“There is simply no way out” for civilians stuck at the closed border with Egypt, these three countries emphasize, calling on Benjamin Netanyahu “not to go down this path.”

“We will fight until complete victory, which requires strong action in Rafah after allowing civilians to leave the combat areas,” the prime minister said on Wednesday.

Around 1.4 million people, according to the UN, more than half of Gaza's population, many of them displaced several times, are now crowding into Rafah, which has been transformed into a gigantic camp, out of fear of the announced offensive.

Rafah is also the main entry point for humanitarian aid from Egypt, which is controlled by Israel and is insufficient to meet the needs of a population at risk of famine and epidemics in the middle of winter.

Hostages are reportedly being held at Nasser Hospital

The Israeli army said on Thursday it had “credible information” indicating that hostages kidnapped by Hamas were being held in the largest hospital in the southern Gaza Strip, where heavy fighting has taken place in recent weeks.

“We have credible information from various sources, including released hostages, indicating that Hamas has held hostages at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis and that there may be bodies of hostages there,” the Israeli army said in a statement.

After weeks of heavy bombings and clashes with Hamas militants in the neighborhood, the Israeli military said it was conducting a “targeted and limited operation” at this medical complex, the largest in the southern Gaza Strip.

Videos circulating on social media show scenes of chaos at the hospital, such as rescuers trying to get patients to safety from the orthopedic ward, which appears to have been hit by a strike. Or people running through a narrow alley to escape the hospital, which AFP was unable to access this week.

Medical staff raised the alarm about the fate of the hospital on Wednesday. A nurse complained about a lack of drinking water, clogged sewers in the emergency room and Israeli snipers stationed on the facility's rooftops.

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday he was “alarmed” by the information from Nasser Hospital, which he described as “the backbone of the health system in the southern Gaza Strip.”

The WHO has been denied access to the hospital in recent days and has lost contact with the staff, he wrote on X.

The Hamas Ministry of Health said thousands of people, including patients, were forced to leave the hospital, where the situation was “catastrophic” and staff were unable to evacuate bodies to the morgue due to a lack of security in the complex.

Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari denied on Thursday that he wanted to evacuate the facility. “We insisted that patients and staff were not required to evacuate the hospital,” he said, citing recent discussions with medical officials.

“We are not concerned with harming innocent civilians. We are trying to find our hostages and bring them home,” he emphasized.

Earlier this week, the Israeli army conducted a commando operation in Rafah, freeing two Israeli-Argentine hostages, Fernando Marman and Luis Har, who had been kidnapped on October 7 at Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak, which is on the Israeli side but in Near the cities is Khan Younes and Rafah.

In this unprecedented attack on Israeli soil, Hamas captured nearly 250 hostages. A ceasefire in November enabled the release of 105 of these hostages. According to the Israeli army, 130 people are still in Gaza today, 29 of whom are believed to have died.