VIDEO: Israeli tanks shell vicinity of Indonesian Hospital, at least 12 killed
20 Nov 2023
Palestinians wounded in Israeli strikes lie on the floor at the Indonesian hospital in Gaza. Reuters
The Gaza Health Ministry said on Monday 12 people were killed in an Israeli strike on a hospital in northern Gaza.
Twelve people, included wounded patients and companions, "were killed and dozens wounded as a result of the Israeli occupation targeting the Indonesian Hospital", said ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra.
Heavy fighting erupted around the hospital in northern Gaza where thousands of patients and displaced people have been sheltering for weeks, as Israeli forces focus on clearing out medical facilities that they say Hamas members use for cover.
The advance on the Indonesian Hospital came a day after the World Health Organization evacuated 31 premature babies from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the territory's largest, where they were among more than 250 critically ill or wounded patients stranded there days after Israeli forces entered the compound.
The plight of Gaza's hospitals is at the focus of a battle of narratives over the war's brutal toll on Palestinian civilians, thousands of whom have been killed or buried in rubble since the six-week-old war was sparked by Hamas' Oct. 7 rampage into southern Israel.
Israel says Hamas uses civilians as human shields, while critics say Israel's siege and relentless aerial bombardment amount to collective punishment of the territory's 2.3 million Palestinians.
Marwan Abdallah, a medical worker at the Indonesian Hospital, said Israeli tanks were visible from the windows. "You can see them moving around and firing,” he said. "Women and children are terrified. There are constant sounds of explosions and gunfire.”
Videos shot from inside the hospital showed tanks firing just outside the facility.
Abdallah said the hospital had received dozens of dead and wounded in airstrikes and shelling overnight. He said medical staff and displaced people fear Israel will besiege the hospital and force its evacuation.
The Israeli military, which rarely publicizes troop movements, had no immediate comment.
UN bodies were able to safely evacuate the babies, who were in critical condition, from Shifa to a hospital in southern Gaza, and plan to transport them to a hospital in neighboring Egypt. Four other babies died in the two days before the evacuation, according to Mohamed Zaqout, the director of Gaza hospitals.
Over 250 patients with severely infected wounds and other urgent conditions remain in Shifa, which could no longer provide most treatment after it ran out of water, medical supplies and fuel for emergency generators amid a territory-wide blackout. Israeli forces battled Palestinian militants outside its gates for days before entering the facility last Wednesday.
Israel’s army said it had strong evidence supporting its claims that Hamas maintained a sprawling command post inside and under the hospital’s 20-acre complex, which includes several buildings, garages and a plaza.