HomeGlobal Defence UpdatesIsraeli tanks batter hospital districts in Khan Younis

Israeli tanks batter hospital districts in Khan Younis

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GAZA/DOHA/JERUSALEM: Israeli tanks battered areas around two hospitals in Gaza’s main southern city Khan Younis on Thursday, forcing displaced people into a new desperate scramble for safety, residents said, in an escalating offensive Israel says is targeting Hamas militants.

In Gaza City in the north of the embattled enclave, 20 Palestinians were killed and 150 injured when hit by an Israeli strike while queuing to collect food aid, said Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesperson for Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry. The Israeli military said it was looking into the report. Gaza health officials said at least 50 Palestinians had been killed in the past 24 hours in Khan Younis, where Israel has shifted full-blown military operations after starting to pull forces out of northern areas it says it now largely controls.

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 Israel’s military campaign, now in its fourth month.

Khan Younis is encircled by Israeli armoured forces and under almost non-stop aerial and ground fire, residents said, 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 huddled inside or nearby.

Israel says Hamas militants use hospital premises as cover for bases, something the Islamist group and medical staff deny.The Israeli army’s siege of Khan Younis’ main hospitals, in what it calls an escalating campaign to eliminate militants in Hamas’ main south Gaza bastion, has made it near impossible for rescue crews to reach the wounded or collect the dead.Al-Qidra said Nasser Hospital was running at only 10% of capacity in “harsh and frightening conditions”, having run out of food, pain killers and anaesthetics.

On Wednesday, the United Nations said Israeli tanks struck a large UN compound in Gaza sheltering displaced Palestinians, killing at least nine people and wounding 75. But Israel denied its forces were responsible, suggesting Hamas might have launched the shelling. It said it was reviewing the incident. On Thursday, thousands of homeless people sheltering in the compound prepared to flee to Rafah, 15 km away on Gaza’s southern edge, after Israeli forces nearby ordered all civilians inside to leave, UN officials said.



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