Israeli troops storm Khan Younis39 main hospital after ordering its.com2F892F722F3e9d89b45bdf9204ad6902530a6f2Fb53616a1c65942299f64184f1a1f7cae

Israeli troops storm Khan Younis' main hospital after ordering its evacuation

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli forces stormed the main hospital in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, hours after Israeli fire killed one patient and wounded six others inside the complex. The Israeli army said it was a limited operation to search for the remains of hostages captured by Hamas.

The raid came a day after the army attempted to evacuate thousands of displaced people who had sought refuge at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. The southern city has been the main target of Israel's offensive against Hamas in recent weeks.

The military said it had “credible information” that Hamas was holding hostages at the hospital and that the hostages' remains may still be inside. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the military's chief spokesman, said forces were conducting a “precise and limited” operation there and would not forcibly evacuate medics or patients. Israel accuses Hamas of using hospitals and other civilian structures to protect its fighters.

Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said Israel launched a “massive raid” with heavy gunfire that injured many of the displaced people who had taken refuge there. He said the military ordered medics to move all patients to an older building that was not adequately equipped to treat them.

“Many cannot be evacuated, such as people with lower limb amputations, severe burns or the elderly,” he said in an interview with the Al Jazeera network.

Separately, Israeli airstrikes in southern Lebanon on Wednesday killed at least 13 people, 10 civilians – mostly women and children – and three fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. The attacks came just hours after an Israeli soldier was killed by a rocket attack from Lebanon. This was the deadliest daily exchange of fire along the border since the war in Gaza began on October 7. It also underscored the risks of a broader conflict.

Negotiations for a ceasefire in Gaza appear to have stalled, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue the offensive until Hamas is destroyed and scores of hostages taken during the Oct. 7 attack that started the war are returned triggered, were taken.


Nasser Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis has been the latest focus of operations that have crippled Gaza's health sector as it struggles to treat scores of patients injured in daily bombardments.

Video after the strike showed paramedics pushing patients on stretchers through a corridor filled with smoke or dust. A medic used a cellphone flashlight to illuminate a darkened room where a wounded man screamed in pain as gunfire rang out outside. The Associated Press could not authenticate the videos, but they were consistent with its reporting.

Dr. Khaled Alserr, one of the remaining surgeons at Nasser Hospital, told the AP that the seven patients hit early Thursday were already being treated for previous wounds. On Wednesday, a doctor was slightly injured when a drone opened fire on the upper floors of the hospital, he said.

“The situation is escalating every hour and every minute,” he said.

The Israeli military said on Wednesday that it had opened a safe corridor for displaced people to leave the hospital but would allow doctors and patients to remain there. Videos circulating online showed dozens of people leaving the facility on foot, carrying their belongings on their shoulders.

The military ordered the evacuation of Nasser Hospital and surrounding areas last month. But as at other health facilities, medics said patients could not safely leave the hospital or be relocated and that thousands of people displaced by fighting elsewhere remained there. Palestinians say there is no safe place in the besieged area as Israel continues to carry out attacks in all parts of the area.

“People were forced into an impossible situation,” said Lisa Macheiner from the aid organization Doctors Without Borders, which has staff at the hospital.

“Stay in Nasser Hospital against Israeli military orders and become a potential target, or leave the site in an apocalyptic landscape where bombings and evacuation orders are part of daily life.”

There is no end in sight to the months-long war

The war began when Hamas militants broke through Israel's formidable defenses on October 7 and rampaged through several communities, killing about 1,200 people and taking another 250 hostage. More than 100 of the prisoners were released under a ceasefire last year in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners.

About 130 prisoners remain in Gaza, a quarter of whom are presumed dead. Netanyahu is under intense pressure from the hostages' families and the general public to strike a deal to secure their freedom. But his far-right coalition partners could topple his government if he is perceived to be too soft on Hamas.

Israel responded to the October 7 attack with one of the deadliest and most destructive military campaigns in modern history. Over 28,000 Palestinians have been killed, 80% of the population have fled their homes and a quarter are starving amid a worsening humanitarian disaster. Large areas of northern Gaza, the first target of the offensive, were completely destroyed

Hamas has continued to attack Israeli forces in all parts of the Gaza Strip and said it would not release all remaining prisoners until Israel ends its offensive and withdraws. Hamas is also demanding the release of large numbers of Palestinian prisoners, including high-ranking militants.

Netanyahu has rejected these demands, calling them “delusional.” He said Israel would soon expand its offensive to Gaza's southernmost city, Rafah, on the Egyptian border. More than half of Gaza's 2.3 million residents have sought refuge in Rafah after fleeing fighting elsewhere in the coastal enclave.

At least 28,576 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed since the war began, according to Gaza's health ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants. Over 68,000 people were injured in the war.

Meanwhile, in northern Israel, a female soldier was killed and eight people injured in a rocket attack when one of the projectiles hit a military base in the city of Safed on Wednesday. In response, Israel carried out airstrikes in southern Lebanon, killing three Hezbollah fighters and 10 civilians, including six women and three children.

Since the beginning of the Gaza war, there have been exchanges of fire between Israel and Hezbollah along the border almost daily. Hezbollah has not claimed responsibility for Wednesday's rocket attack.


Mroue reported from Beirut.


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