Palestinian surgeon says Israeli snipers killed civilians trying to flee besieged Gaza hospital 

Palestinian surgeon says Israeli snipers killed civilians trying to flee besieged Gaza hospital 
Palestinian surgeon says Israeli snipers killed civilians trying to flee besieged Gaza hospital 

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - GAZA — Doctors and medical officials in southern Gaza say Israeli snipers have shot dead a number of people as they tried to leave the Nasser Medical Complex in recent days.

The hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis is the largest remaining functioning medical facility in Gaza but for weeks it has been at the center of an ongoing Israeli military assault in the area.

A trauma surgeon at the hospital told CNN he saw at least two people killed by snipers on Tuesday, with more shot and injured.

The Israeli military has ordered hospital staff, patients and hundreds of displaced people sheltering inside the medical complex to evacuate and said it had “opened a secure route” for civilians to leave.

But at least eight people trying to escape along the route came under gunfire on Tuesday, said the surgeon, who asked not to be named for security reasons.

Among those injured, according to the surgeon, was a 16-year-old boy shot with four bullets at the hospital gate.

In a series of voice notes, the surgeon said medical teams at the hospital have been under intense bombardment for at least three days. His testimony was shared with CNN by his colleague.

“The tanks and the snipers (are) surrounding the hospital from all directions,” the surgeon said in a voice message early Wednesday. “They threatened to bomb the hospital within half an hour.”

Reached for comment late Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed to CNN that Israeli troops are operating in the area of the Nasser Medical Complex and said they will get back to CNN if anything changes. It did not respond directly to the allegations of snipers.

Israel has repeatedly said that its military forces do not target civilians.

In a video seen by CNN, men, women and young children carrying rucksacks frantically gather their belongings before evacuating the hospital. The sound of Israeli drones overhead can also be heard.

“They have bombed a warehouse inside the hospital ... most of the medical supplies have been burned,” the surgeon said.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza also said Israeli sniper fire had killed civilians on Tuesday and said a further seven people were shot dead by Israeli snipers on Monday.

More than 1,500 displaced people are still inside the facility, including at least 273 patients and 190 medical staff, according to the Ministry of Health in Hamas-controlled Gaza. There are three children inside the nursery, it added.

Early in the war, the Israeli military designated Khan Younis as a safer zone and told residents from northern Gaza to seek shelter there. But as the IDF pushed its ground offensive south, the city became its next focus.

The IDF says Khan Younis is a Hamas stronghold, and that a tunnel network underneath civilian buildings in the city was likely where Hamas planned the October 7 attacks, in which more than 1,200 people were killed – the deadliest such attacks in Israel’s history.

Hamas has denied hiding in hospitals and other civilian structures and CNN cannot independently verify either claim.

The destruction of the city Khan Younis due to Israel’s military campaign is widespread, with many buildings completely destroyed and the rubble bulldozed away, CNN witnessed.

In the west of the city, where the hospital is located, the Israeli military said it was targeting Hamas outposts, infrastructure, and command and control centers.

Vital medical services at the hospital had collapsed in late January, according to Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and staff were left with “very low supplies that are insufficient to handle mass casualty events.”

Now, electrical generators will stop within 72 hours if the Israeli bombardment persists, Dr. Ashraf Al-Qidra, a spokesman for the Hamas run Ministry of Health in Gaza said on Wednesday.

“The situation is catastrophic and very disturbing in the Nasser Medical Complex, and there is a state of panic among those present there,” he said. “Sewage water is flooding the emergency department.”

Another doctor inside Nasser’s emergency department said he expects Israeli forces to enter the hospital “at any moment.”

“Frankly, we live in moments of fear,” Hytham Ahmad said in video obtained by CNN.

“We expect the arrest of doctors and the arrest of workers and patients. We live all this fear on a daily basis ... The nearby shelling, the nearby bombings, and the deployment of snipers around the hospital put us in an absolutely worrying position.”

In late January, doctors at the hospital described a “completely catastrophic” with the hospital “entirely besieged” by Israeli forces.

Video filmed on Tuesday at the hospital shows columns of smoke at its perimeter, an Israeli bulldozer destroying a hospital perimeter wall, and an armored vehicle entering the hospital grounds. The sound of gunfire can be heard throughout.

A journalist at the hospital told CNN Wednesday that hundreds of patients and people sheltering at the hospital are fleeing.

With so much destruction in northern Gaza and the current offensive unfolding in the southern part of the besieged enclave, MSF said that many people have no safe place to flee.

“People ask us ‘Where is it safe? Where should we go?’, but there is no answer to that, and it really leads to a feeling of despair,” said Lisa Macheiner, a MSF project coordinator in Gaza.

MSF condemned the Israeli military’s order to evacuate patients, staff and displaced people from Nasser Hospital, saying “people have been forced into an impossible situation.”

“Stay at Nasser hospital against the Israeli military’s orders and become a potential target, or exit the compound into an apocalyptic landscape where bombings and evacuation orders are a part of daily life,” Macheiner said.

“Hospitals should be considered as safe places and shouldn’t even be evacuated in the first place.”— CNN

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