Israeli special forces launch raid on largest functioning hospital in Gaza

By Isaac M February 16, 2024

Israel says its special forces have raided the biggest functioning hospital in Gaza, with a number of suspects detained.

The Israeli military said the operation at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis was “precise and limited” and claimed it had information Hamas fighters were hiding there.

Israel also said the ruling militant group in Gaza may have kept hostages at the medical facility, and it was possible some captives’ bodies were at the site.

Hamas has denied the accusations, calling them “lies”, with health authorities saying Israel has pushed out displaced people and medical workers’ families who were sheltering in the hospital.

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A patient is attended to amid commotion at Nasser Hospital. Pic: Reuters
Image:
A patient is attended to amid commotion at Nasser Hospital. Pic: Reuters

The Israeli military had earlier this week ordered thousands of displaced people who had been sheltering at the site to leave, but told medical staff and patients they could remain.

The special forces raid came hours after an Israeli strike killed a patient and injured six others in the complex, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Video footage showed doctors scrambling to move patients on stretchers through a corridor filled with smoke or dust.

The charity Medicins San Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said Israel shelled the southern Gazan hospital in the early hours of Thursday.

“Our medical staff have had to flee the hospital, leaving patients behind,” it said on X.

On Wednesday, the military said it had opened a secure corridor for displaced people to leave the hospital but would let doctors and patients stay there.

People rest next to damaged buildings, as Palestinian arrive in Rafah after they were evacuated from Nasser hospital.
Pic: Reuters
Image:
People rest next to damaged buildings, as Palestinians arrive in Rafah after they were evacuated from Nasser Hospital. Pic: Reuters

‘Nowhere is safe’

Palestinians have insisted nowhere is safe in the besieged territory, as Israel continues to carry out strikes in all areas of Gaza.

Israel accuses Hamas of using hospitals and other civilian structures to shield its fighters.

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Hamas leader’s calculations ‘didn’t go as planned’

Since the war began on 7 October last year when Hamas launched its deadly attack on Israel, about 80% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes due to retaliatory Israeli strikes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed Hamas gunmen are hiding in Rafah, on the southern Egyptian border, and is mulling launching a ground assault on the city.

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In Rafah, 1.4 million people – over half the territory’s population – are crammed into tent camps and overflowing apartments and shelters in the city.

A top UN official has warned the deteriorating situation in Gaza is the worst humanitarian crisis he has ever seen in his 50-year career.

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Gaza the ‘worst humanitarian crisis’

Speaking to Sky News’ Yalda Hakim, Martin Griffiths said it was because “people can’t escape. They’re blocked in, they’re not able to run out of Gaza”.

“I think this is the worst [crisis] in my 50 years of experience.”

Hamas killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in its cross-border raid on Israel on 7 October and took around 250 others hostage.

In retaliatory Israeli strikes, more than 28,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

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