Israel says it launched "precision" operations

Israel, Hamas clash in heavy fighting near key Gaza hospitals

Niños palestinos desplazados esperan en el interior de sus tiendas improvisadas en un campamento junto a una calle de Rafah el 14 de marzo de 2024, en medio de los combates en curso entre Israel y el grupo militante Hamás – PHOTO/Mohammed ABED/AFP
Displaced Palestinian children wait inside their makeshift tents at a roadside camp in Rafah on March 14, 2024, amid ongoing fighting between Israel and the militant group Hamas - PHOTO/Mohammed ABED/AFP

Israel is battling fighters from the Palestinian Hamas movement on Monday in the vicinity of at least two hospitals in the Gaza Strip, raising fears for the fate of patients, medical staff and displaced refugees in the facilities.

  1. "Much suffering"
  2. Fighting in the vicinity of hospitals

Israeli troops and tanks launched an operation around Al Shifa hospital, Gaza's largest facility in northern Gaza, more than a week ago and also began a siege against Al Amal hospital in southern Gaza's Khan Younis.

Israel claims it launched "precision" operations, but humanitarian agencies have warned of the risks to civilians trapped by the fighting.

On the diplomatic front, the UN Security Council votes again on Monday on a draft resolution for an "immediate ceasefire" in Gaza.

In addition, talks by technical teams for a truce continue in Qatar.

After more than five and a half months of conflict, two issues are of concern to the international community: the growing risk of famine for the people of Gaza and Israel's announced plan to invade Rafah, a town in the south of the territory where some 1.5 million Palestinians, many of them displaced, are sheltering.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres travelled to Egypt at the weekend to the Gaza border, where he called for an end to the "endless nightmare" for the Palestinian territory's 2.4 million people, who have been under Israeli siege since the conflict began.

Israel is facing increasing pressure from its main ally, the United States, at a time when Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant is due to meet Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin in Washington.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who governs a far-right coalition, vowed to press ahead with plans to invade Rafah, with or without US support.

US Vice President Kamala Harris reiterated Washington's position on ABC TV over the weekend that invading Rafah would be "a grave mistake" and said "consequences" for Israel could not be ruled out.

Esta foto difundida por el Ejército israelí el 28 de diciembre de 2023 muestra a las tropas sobre el terreno en la Franja de Gaza en medio de las continuas batallas entre Israel y el grupo militante palestino Hamás - AFP PHOTO/HANDOUT/ISRAELI ARMY
This photo released by the Israeli army on 28 December 2023 shows troops on the ground in the Gaza Strip amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas - AFP PHOTO/HANDOUT/ISRAELI ARMY

"Much suffering"

The war erupted on 7 October over Hamas's attack on Israel, which left some 1,160 people dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on Israeli data.

The Israeli response has left at least 32,333 dead in Gaza, according to the health ministry of Hamas, which has ruled the Palestinian territory since 2007.

Acute food and water shortages are increasing the suffering of civilians, especially in northern Gaza.

"We have no food to give us the energy to go and collect water," said Basam Mohamed al-Hau in Jabaliya.

Falah Saed said the population is experiencing "a lot of suffering" because of the lack of water, as supplies were cut off at the start of the war due to the Israeli siege.

Tropas israelíes en Gaza - MAHMUD HAMS/AFP
Israeli troops in Gaza - MAHMUD HAMS/AFP

Fighting in the vicinity of hospitals

The Israeli army claimed to be fighting Hamas members in the vicinity of at least two hospitals in the Gaza Strip, and said it had killed more than 20 Palestinian fighters in the past 24 hours.

People living in the vicinity of the Al Shifa hospital report suffering hellish conditions, with dead bodies in the streets, constant shelling and the detention of many men, who are forced to undress for interrogation.

According to Israel, the balance of its operations in this area is 170 "terrorists" killed and nearly 500 arrests of individuals linked to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

In Khan Younis, Israeli troops surrounded the vicinity of the Al Amal hospital, preventing any admission to the centre and blocking the exit of medical staff, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said