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Israel says special forces entered Nasser Hospital and arrested suspects

By CNN's Kareem Khadder in Jerusalem and Lauren Izso at the Tel Aviv Nasser Hospital in the city of Khan Younis in Gaza, on December 22, 2020. Abed Zagout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Israeli special forces have entered Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Ministry of Health in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

The IDF said it had “arrested a number of suspects” at the hospital, adding that the operation was still ongoing.

IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said they had “credible information from a number of sources, including from released hostages” that Hamas had previously held hostages in the hospital and that the bodies of deceased hostages may be in the hospital. The military has not publicly released this evidence.

He claimed that “Hamas terrorists are probably currently hiding behind injured civilians at Nasser Hospital” and said the operation would be “precise and limited.”

But Hamas has denied to CNN that it is operating at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.

“Hamas has no place in the hospital,” Muhammad Nazzal, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, told CNN on Thursday.

Dr. Ashraf Al-Qidra, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said: “The Israeli occupation storms the Nasser Medical Complex and turns it into a military barracks after demolishing the southern wall and entering from there.”

Israeli military bulldozers are digging up mass graves dug within the complex walls, Dr. Al Qidra.

It comes a day after hundreds of civilians were forced by Israeli forces to leave the hospital that was serving as their shelter. Palestinian patients arrive in Rafah, Gaza, on February 15, after being evacuated from Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis due to the Israeli ground operation. Mohammed Salem/Portal

A video filmed at the hospital on Tuesday shows columns of smoke at the edge of the hospital, an Israeli bulldozer destroying a hospital perimeter wall and an armored vehicle entering the hospital grounds. The sound of gunfire can be heard everywhere.

Doctors and medical officials say Israeli snipers have shot several people in recent days as they tried to leave the hospital complex.