Hamas has repeatedly denied Israeli claims that it operates from within the hospital…reports Asian Lite News
A top Israeli official said he was sure that “more and more material” will be shared from the military’s search operation at Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital, where the Jewish nation believes that the Hamas militant group operates a subterranean network of tunnels.
Justifying the military operation at the enclave’s largest hospital, Mark Regev, a senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told the BBC on Wednesday night that “international law specifically says that the minute your enemy uses a humanitarian site like a hospital for its military machine then you can target that site”.
“It doesn’t mean you do so lightly or irresponsibly but under international law it loses its immunity,” he added.
Regev’s remarks came as Israeli special forces backed by additional troops conducted the “precise and targeted operation” inside the hospital against Hamas terror infrastructure at the site.
The operation lasted until Wednesday evening, with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) finding weapons and Hamas assets inside the premises, while it also interrogated people.
At least five Hamas gunmen were killed by troops during a gun battle outside the hospital, The Times of Israel reported, adding that no soldiers were injured.
Addressing the media, IDF spokeperson Daniel Hagari said on Wednesday night that the operation lasted some 18 hours.
He said that the IDF searched the hospital premises extensively and did not rule out the possibility of getting Hamas terroists who are hiding in some areas in the facility.
The Israeli military has repeatedly alleged that Palestinian armed groups operate a military compound within and underneath the Shifa Hospital.
The hospital’s management and the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza have strongly denied these allegations and have called for an independent investigation.
Presently, it remains unclear what or who remains in the complex following the Israli operation.
Meanwhile, the Israeli army stressed that the military was “not overrunning” the hospital, asserting troops were conducting a “focused” operation “in a defined area” of the hospital.
Though Israel believes some of the 240 hostages captured by Gaza terrorists were housed at the hospital at one time, there is no indication of hostages currently being held there.
However, the IDF believes the operation may bring intelligence information on the captives.
Responding to the operation, senior Hamas member Bassem Naim called it “ridiculous and worthless” and said he could not rule out that the Israeli military “brought weapons and put them in the Al-Shifa complex”, the BBC reported.
He said Israel’s goal is to “pressure” hospitals and medical centres and to displace Gaza’s population, adding that 25 hospitals in the territory are now out of service through “bombing, siege and destruction”.
The Health Ministry in Gaza said that before the military raid in Al-Shifa, bombardments hit the hospital and damaged parts of it, including the specialised surgeries department, coronary care division and a warehouse.
“After the troops entered, patients, staff and IDPs were reporteldy relocated within the compound,” it said.
The Ministry also claimed that on Wednesday, 179 bodies held at Al Shifa, which could not be evacuated or properly maintained, were buried in a mass grave inside the compound.
Israel Allows First Fuel Shipment to Gaza
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has allowed the first fuel truck carrying over 20,000 litres of diesel to enter Gaza Strip from Egypt since the breakout of the war amid outcry from international aid organisations that underlined the people’s sufferings due to acute fuel shortage.
Sources with United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) told IANS that the fuel is only for the use of the UN and not for hospital purposes. The UNRWA director in Gaza, Thomas White posted on ‘X’ that it received fuel.
The shortage of fuel has led to the malfunctioning of hospitals, water treatment plants, sewage removal and even communications, according to the UNRWA.
The UNRWA has been actively involved in the humanitarian aid work in Gaza.
The UN had warned that it would have to halt humanitarian operations in Gaza since it was running out of fuel.
Tamara Al Rifai, Executive Director, Communications of UNRWA told IANS that Gaza Strip requires a minimum of 500 trucks per day of provisions, aid materials, fuel and other essential commodities for the minimum functioning of life, saying Gaza was receiving only around 30 trucks per day, which was highly inadequate.
Sources in the UN aid agency told IANS that two more trucks carrying fuel were lined up outside the Rafah crossing but it was not clear as to when these trucks would be allowed into Gaza Strip.
It may be noted that the trucks that cross the Rafah border will have to pass through strict scrutiny of IDF soldiers, which will lead to a lot of time consumption in delivery of aid materials to UN relief centres and warehouses.