GAZA CITY — The Israeli army stormed Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City early Wednesday.
Dr Munir al-Bursh, director-general of the Gaza health ministry, told Al Jazeera television that Israeli forces had raided the western side of the medical complex.
“There are big explosions and dust entered the areas where we are. We believe an explosion occurred inside the hospital” Bursh said.
Anadolu Agency reported the head of the burns department at the medical complex, Dr Ahmad Mikhallalati, as saying that Israeli tanks and bulldozers are now inside the complex.
Less than an hour earlier, around 1am local time (2300 GMT), a Gaza health ministry spokesman said Israeli army had told officials in the enclave that it would raid “a certain part” of the Al-Shifa Hospital Complex “in the coming minutes.”
Calls for ceasefire
Global calls for a humanitarian ceasefire have mounted in recent days, and the fate of Al-Shifa has become the focus of international alarm because of worsening conditions in the facility, where thousands of patients, medical staff and displaced people have been trapped during the Israeli assault on Gaza in the past five weeks.
Israel claimed that Hamas has a command centre underneath Al-Shifa and uses the hospital and tunnels beneath it to conceal military operations and to hold hostages. Hamas denies it.
In a statement, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said: “Based on intelligence information and an operational necessity, IDF forces are carrying out a precise and targeted operation against Hamas in a specified area in the Shifa hospital.”
“The hospital and compound is for Hamas “a central hub of their operations, perhaps even the beating heart and maybe even a centre of gravity” said IDF spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, as reported by CNN.
The US said on Tuesday that its own intelligence supported Israel’s conclusions.
Hamas said today that US announcement had effectively given a “green light” for Israel to raid the hospital. The group said it held Israel and US President Joe Biden fully responsible for the operation.
Palestinian Health Minister Mai Al-Kaila issued a a statement, carried by the official WAFA news agency, holding the Israeli occupation responsible for the lives of medical staff, patients, and displaced people in the Al-Shifa complex.
Al-Kaila warned of catastrophic consequences for patients and medical staff if the occupation army proceeded with storming the Al-Shifa Medical Complex.
Hospitals are protected buildings under international humanitarian law. — Malaysiaxpress