Hospital District Battered In Fighting Around Gaza's Khan Younis | CBC News


Israeli tanks bombarded areas around two hospitals in Gaza’s main southern city Khan Younis on Thursday, forcing displaced people to scramble for safe shelter, residents said, in an offensive Israel says is targeting Hamas militants.

City encircled by Israeli armoured forcesThomson Reuters

· Posted: Jan 25, 2024 10:13 AM EST | Last Updated: 1 hour ago

Casualties arrive at Gaza hospitalAmid ongoing fighting in Gaza, an injured man is brought by donkey cart to the European Hospital in Khan Younis for treatment.

Israeli tanks bombarded areas around two hospitals in Gaza’s main southern city Khan Younis on Thursday, forcing displaced people to scramble for safe shelter, residents said, in an offensive Israel says is targeting Hamas militants.

Gaza health officials said at least 50 Palestinians had been killed in Khan Younis in the past 24 hours, including two children in an Israeli air strike that hit a residential home.

The city is now encircled by Israeli armoured forces and under almost non-stop aerial and ground fire, residents say, and a huge mushroom-like column of smoke billowed skyward from areas of Israeli military operations on Thursday.

Palestinian medics said Israeli tanks had cut off and were shelling targets around the city’s two main still-functioning hospitals, Nasser and Al-Amal, trapping medical teams, patients and displaced people sheltering inside or nearby.

Israel says Hamas militants use hospital premises as cover for bases, something the Islamist group and medical staff deny.

The Israeli military’s siege of Khan Younis’ main hospitals, in what it calls an escalating campaign to eliminate militants in Hamas’ main south Gaza stronghold, has made it nearly impossible for rescue crews to reach the wounded or collect the dead.

Most of the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million population is now squeezed into Khan Younis and towns just north and south of it, after being driven out of its northern half earlier in the war in the Hamas-ruled territory, now in its fourth month.

The fusillade from advancing Israeli forces forced many displaced people to set out again in search of places of safe shelter, medics and residents said.

On Wednesday, the United Nations said Israeli tanks struck a large United Nations compound in Gaza sheltering displaced Palestinians, killing at least nine people and wounding 75. Israel denied its forces were responsible, suggesting Hamas might have launched the shelling. It said it was reviewing the incident.

Israel said Hamas had “command and control centres, outposts and security headquarters” in the vicinity, which it described as “a dense area” with civilians as well as the premises of several hospitals where it said militants were active.

Friday deadline to flee UN compoundOn Thursday, thousands of displaced Palestinians who had taken refuge from Israeli shelling in the UN compound were preparing to flee to Rafah, 15 kilometres away on Gaza’s southern edge.

Israeli forces had set a 5 p.m. local time Friday deadline for the UN compound to be evacuated, according to residents and local journalists at the site. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

Juliette Touma, chief spokesperson for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza, confirmed the report, estimating there are more than 30,000 displaced persons crammed inside.

At least 25,700 people have been killed in Gaza, Palestinian health officials say, with large tracts of the heavily built-up enclave flattened by Israeli bombing.

An estimated 1,200 people were killed during the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7, including Israeli security forces and civilians, along with foreign nationals, according to the Israeli government. About 250 others were taken hostage.

The Israeli military said on Thursday it had killed more than 9,000 Hamas militants and lost 220 soldiers in 3½-month-old war. Reuters was unable to verify the figures.

WATCH | Israeli forces suffer deadliest day: 

Israeli troops suffer deadliest day as offensive further strains Gaza hospitals

In its latest update, the Israeli military said forces had carried out raids with precision air strikes and snipers to take out multiple Hamas command centres and militant emplacements in Khan Younis, including the Al Amal district.

“In close-quarters combat, the soldiers eliminated the terrorists, and various weapons were discovered in the process,” it said in a statement.

Ceasefire appealsDespite international appeals for a ceasefire to spare civilians, Israel has vowed to continue its operation until Hamas has been eradicated and all hostages freed.

Hamas says any deal must hinge on Israel ending its offensive and siege and withdrawing from the Gaza Strip.

Mediated talks on a month-long truce that could see hostages freed in swaps for Palestinian prisoners in Israel have resumed, but have snagged on the two sides’ differences over how to bring an end to the war, sources told Reuters.

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