Israeli forces have reached the gates of Gaza City’s main hospital, which is the primary target in their mission to take control of the northern half of the Gaza Strip. Medics inside the hospital report that patients, including newborn babies, are dying due to a lack of fuel. There are concerns that the conflict could spread beyond Gaza, with clashes increasing on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and the United States launching airstrikes on Iran-linked militia targets in Syria.
Israel initiated its campaign to eliminate Hamas, the militant group that governs the Gaza Strip, after Hamas fighters killed civilians in southern Israel. According to Israel’s count, 1,200 people died and 240 were taken hostage, making it the deadliest day in the country’s history. Since then, thousands of Gazans have been killed, and over half of the population has been displaced by the Israeli military’s relentless campaign. Israel has ordered the complete evacuation of the northern half of Gaza, and medical authorities in Gaza report that over 11,000 people, including 40% children, have been confirmed killed.
Israeli ground forces entered Gaza in late October and have surrounded Gaza City, the main settlement in the north. The fighting has been concentrated around the Shifa hospital, the largest hospital in the enclave, where thousands of civilians have sought shelter. Israel claims that Hamas fighters have an underground headquarters beneath the hospital and are using patients as human shields, a claim that Hamas denies. A tank is now stationed at the hospital gate, according to Gaza health ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qidra.
Israel has instructed civilians to leave and medics to transfer patients to other locations. They claim to have attempted to evacuate babies from the neo-natal ward and have left 300 liters of fuel at the hospital entrance to power emergency generators. However, these offers were blocked by Hamas. Qidra denies rejecting the fuel offers but states that the 300 liters would only power the hospital for half an hour. He explains that Shifa hospital requires 8,000-10,000 liters of fuel per day, which must be delivered by the Red Cross or an international aid agency.
An Israeli official, who wishes to remain anonymous, argues that 300 liters of fuel could last several hours since only the emergency room is currently operational, reducing the hospital’s fuel needs. The Gaza health ministry reports that three out of 45 babies in incubators at Shifa have died, and a surgeon at the hospital warns that more deaths are expected.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus states that Al Shifa hospital is no longer functioning as a hospital and that the number of patient fatalities has significantly increased. He criticizes the transformation of hospitals, which should be safe havens, into scenes of death and devastation.
The conflict has divided the world, with many countries arguing that the Hamas attacks do not justify the Israeli response, which has resulted in the deaths of numerous civilians in a densely populated and besieged territory. Israel insists on destroying Hamas and places the blame for harm to civilians on fighters who intentionally hide among them. They reject calls for a ceasefire, claiming it would only prolong the suffering by giving Hamas an opportunity to regroup. The United States supports Israel’s position but also urges them to protect civilians.
Despite Israel’s order to leave, hundreds of thousands of civilians remain in the northern part of Gaza, where the fighting is concentrated. Israel has also targeted the south, leaving Gazans with nowhere safe to go. The fear of a broader conflict has increased, with Hezbollah in Lebanon and other Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria engaging in missile and drone attacks. The United States has responded with airstrikes against Iran-aligned groups in Syria.
Iran has praised the Hamas attacks but denies being behind them. The situation remains dire, with hospitals transformed into scenes of death and devastation. The conflict continues to escalate, raising concerns about its impact on the region.
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