Israel tanks surround Gaza’s Nasser Hospital, say witnesses

Israel tanks surround Gaza’s Nasser Hospital, say witnesses
Israel tanks surround Gaza’s Nasser Hospital, say witnesses

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Palestinians mourn over the covered bodies of relatives, killed in overnight Israeli bombardment, at the al-Najjar hospital in Rafah. — AFP pic

GAZA, March 27 — Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles surrounded a hospital in Gaza’s Khan Yunis yesterday, witnesses said, as the Palestinian Red Crescent reported another facility was “out of service” due to military operations.

Witnesses at Nasser Hospital, where thousands of displaced Palestinians have sought refuge from the fighting, told AFP that shots were fired at the sprawling complex in the southern city, but no raid was as yet taking place.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said Israeli troops were shooting and firing “shells and (conducting) violent raids in its surroundings in preparation for its storming”.

“Thousands of displaced people are still inside the hospital,” the ministry said. “They do not have sufficient quantities of drinking water, food and infant formula, and their lives are in danger.”

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The Israeli army did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.

For the past nine days, Israeli troops have been involved in heavy fighting in and around Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Hospital, the territory’s biggest. They claim to have killed 170 Palestinian militants there and arrested hundreds of others.

The Palestinian Red Crescent on Tuesday said that Al-Amal Hospital, near Nasser in Khan Yunis, was “out of service” after Israeli forces evacuated it and blocked the entrance.

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The medical organisation said in a statement that “the international community failed to provide the necessary protection” for staff, patients and displaced Gazans sheltering at Al-Amal.

The Red Crescent said one patient and one of its volunteers were killed on Sunday by Israeli fire.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said the hospital has been turned into “a battleground when it should be a sanctuary”.

“The forced closure of Al-Amal Hospital, one of the few remaining medical facilities in the south, has profound implications, leaving countless lives at risk,” the IFRC said in a statement.

“Marked clearly with the red crescent emblem, Al-Amal Hospital is protected under International Humanitarian Law.”

The Israeli military, which on Monday reported killing about 20 fighters around Al-Amal Hospital, did not comment on the statements. — AFP

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