It is Day 41 of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas and the Israeli army’s stampede at Al Shifa Hospital – Gaza’s largest – continues.
“Tonight we carried out a targeted operation in the Al Shifa hospital. We continue to move forward,” said Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, head of Israeli military operations in Gaza, said in a post on social media on Wednesday evening.
RNews earlier reported that Israeli forces stormed the hospital on Wednesday in the hope of striking what they suspect is an underground Hamas command center operating in tunnels under Al Shifa Hospital.
However, Hamas says there is no such thing.
Daniel Hagari, spokesman for the army, has since said that army equipment, weapons and “an operational headquarters with communication equipment” were found at the hospital on the first day of the Israeli army’s raid.
Gaza’s Hamas-run health department said on Thursday, for its part, that Israeli bulldozers had destroyed “parts of the southern entrance” of the hospital.
A journalist currently trapped in the hospital and in contact with AFP said Israeli soldiers, some wearing face masks, fired shots into the air and ordered young men to surrender after they burst into the hospital on Wednesday.
About 1,000 Palestinian men, with their hands above their heads, were gathered in the courtyard of the hospital. Some of them were stripped naked and searched by Israeli soldiers for weapons or explosives, according to the journalist.
US President Joe Biden said on Thursday that he had told Israel to be “incredibly careful” with its Al Shifa operation.
However, Biden is also convinced that Hamas hides its “headquarters, weapons (and) materials” at the hospital.
According to the United Nations (UN), at least 2,300 patients, staff members and uprooted people were trapped in the hospital at this stage due to ongoing fighting between Israeli soldiers and Hamas forces.
“The protection of newborns, patients, medical staff and all civilians must trump all other concerns,” says the UN’s humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths. “Hospitals are not battlefields.”
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution on Wednesday calling for “urgent and extensive humanitarian pauses” in fighting.
The resolution – which was adopted thanks to abstentions from the US, Britain and Russia – called on Hamas and Israel to protect civilians, “especially children”.