Israel says 20 militants killed, 200 detained at key Gaza hospital

Israel says 20 militants killed, 200 detained at key Gaza hospital
Israel says 20 militants killed, 200 detained at key Gaza hospital

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - This handout picture released by the Israeli army on November 15, 2023, reportedly shows Israeli soldiers carrying out operations inside Al-Shifa hospital. Israel again carried out another military operation around the hospital yesterday. — AFP pic/Israeli Army

GAZA, March 19 — Israel’s military said 20 Palestinian gunmen were killed yesterday and scores detained during a raid on Gaza City’s Al-Shifa hospital that targeted “senior Hamas terrorists”.

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Soldiers rolled in with tanks and air strikes hit the area around the Hamas-ruled territory’s biggest medical centre, a complex crowded with patients and displaced people.

“During the operation we arrested more than 200 suspected terrorists and they are currently in investigation,” Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, Israel’s military spokesman, said in a televised statement.

“We eliminated more than 20 terrorists inside the hospital complex” and another 20 “in the area surrounding the hospital”, Hagari said.

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Among the dead was Fayq al-Mabhouh, who Hagari said was “head of special operations at the Hamas internal security organisation”. A Gaza police source confirmed his death, saying Mabhouh was a brigadier general in the force.

Speaking late on Monday, Hagari said Israeli soldiers were “continuing operations inside the hospital complex tonight”.

The latest military operation around the hospital — which was raided by Israeli troops before, in November, sparking an international outcry — triggered alarm from the World Health Organisation.

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“We are terribly worried about the situation at Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“Hospitals should never be battlegrounds.”

An AFP journalist witnessed air strikes on buildings in the area around the hospital and reported seeing “hundreds of people, mostly children, women, and the elderly, fleeing their homes”.

Israel has repeatedly said the complex housed an underground Hamas control base, a claim denied by the militants.

Hospitals out of action

Hagari said it housed Hamas including commanders who had “turned it into a command centre from which they dispatched and managed terror operations and managed combat”.

Tedros said that Al-Shifa had “only recently restored minimal health services”.

Most of Gaza’s hospitals are no longer functioning, according to the United Nations.

Fayq al-Mabhouh is the brother of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, one of the founders of the armed wing of Hamas, according to family members.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was killed in 2010 in , in a hit which United Arab Emirates investigators suspected was the work of Mossad, the Israeli spy agency.

On Monday, the army released a video showing what it said were weapons and money seized from Al-Shifa which had been used by Hamas and another armed group, Islamic Jihad.

In January Israel’s army said it had “completed the dismantling” of Hamas’s command structure in the northern Gaza Strip, where Al-Shifa is located.

The military has carried out operations at other hospitals in Gaza since war broke out on October 7, when Hamas attacked Israel from Gaza.

The unprecedented attack resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Hamas also seized about 250 hostages, of whom Israel believes 130 remain in Gaza, including 33 who are presumed dead.

Israel has carried out a relentless bombing campaign and ground offensive that Gaza’s health ministry says has killed at least 31,726 people, most of them women and children. — AFP

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