Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City has been taken over by Israeli forces, resulting in hundreds of patients, staff, and displaced people leaving the facility. Only a small group of medical personnel and the sickest patients remain in the hospital.
Reports indicate that Israeli forces conducted searches and face-scanned the men leaving the hospital, detaining some individuals. The World Health Organization has described the situation at Al-Shifa as a “death zone” and called for a complete evacuation. Israel claims that the hospital is being used as an underground command center by Hamas, which both the group and the hospital staff deny.
The evacuation of Al-Shifa Hospital was reportedly requested by the hospital’s director, though Hamas-controlled officials claim that the military ordered the facility to be cleared with only a one-hour notice.
Despite the evacuation, there are still around 120 patients who cannot be moved, including those in intensive care and premature babies. The current condition and whereabouts of those who left the hospital are unclear, as most of Gaza’s hospitals are either non-functional or only partially operational. The evacuation coincided with the restoration of internet and phone services in the Gaza Strip, ending a telecommunications blackout that hindered humanitarian aid deliveries.
In an op-ed for the Washington Post, President Biden called for a two-state solution and emphasized the need for the international community to support Gaza’s people during this crisis. Meanwhile, CBS News reported that Israel was considering a proposal that would involve the release of some hostages held by Hamas in exchange for a temporary cease-fire.
Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has stated that he is facing pressure to agree to a full cease-fire but rejected it, vowing to continue fighting until Hamas is destroyed and the hostages are returned. In response, thousands of Israelis took part in a march, showing support for the families of the hostages and expressing anger towards Netanyahu.
There have also been reports of airstrikes in different areas of Gaza. Witnesses described an Israeli airstrike hitting a U.N. shelter in the Jabaliya refugee camp, causing significant destruction and resulting in dozens of casualties.
Additionally, a residential building in the town of Khan Younis was targeted, leading to the deaths of at least 26 Palestinians. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant indicated that Israel’s military operations may expand further into southern Gaza.
Israel has been criticized for the high number of civilian casualties resulting from its actions. The Israeli military maintains that it is targeting Hamas and attempting to minimize harm to civilians.
Netanyahu stated that Israel is making every effort to minimize civilian casualties but blamed Hamas for using Palestinian civilians as human shields. Many of Gaza’s population have sought shelter in the southern areas, following Israel’s evacuation warnings.