Heavy Fighting Erupts Around Northern Gaza Hospital Amid Israel-Hamas Conflict


Heavy fighting erupted Monday around a hospital in northern Gaza as Israel pressed on with its offensive against Hamas militants.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said at least 12 people were killed when a shell hit the second floor of the Indonesian Hospital.

Israel’s military says troops outside the hospital fired back at fighters within the facility but added that no shells were fired toward the hospital. 

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi condemned the attack and blamed Israel.

“Indonesia strongly condemns the Israeli attack on the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza that killed a number of civilians,” she said in a statement. “The attack is a clear violation of international humanitarian law. All countries, especially those with close ties to Israel, must use all their influence and capabilities, to urge Israel to stop its atrocities.”

About 600 patients, 200 health care workers and 2,000 displaced people from the Indonesian Hospital are now sheltering in southern Gaza, Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said. “The [Israeli] occupation aims to evacuate the hospital, as it did in Shifa” in Gaza City, he said.

Some relief for Gaza’s collapsing health system arrived Monday. Dozens of trucks entered the territory from Egypt with equipment from Jordan to set up a field hospital. Jordan’s state-run media said the new facility in the southern town of Khan Younis would be operating within 48 hours.

In addition, Israel says it is starting to allow about 70,000 liters of fuel each day into Gaza from Egypt, although the allocation would be far short of the minimum requirements for essential humanitarian operations. But it will help support food distribution and the operation of generators at hospitals, water and sanitation facilities, shelters, and other critical services.

Meanwhile, 28 premature babies evacuated from Shifa on Sunday have arrived in Egypt, Egyptian-state media reported, while the World Health Organization said three others have been reunited with their families in southern Gaza.

Israel published video Sunday of what it described as a tunnel dug by Hamas militants under Shifa Hospital, a focus of its search-and-destroy missions against Hamas militants. Israeli engineers uncovered the tunnel 10 meters deep and running 55 meters to a blast-proof door.

“This type of door is used by the Hamas terrorist organization to block Israeli forces from entering the command centers and the underground assets belonging to Hamas,” said a military statement.

While acknowledging that it has a network of hundreds of kilometers of secret tunnels, bunkers and access shafts throughout the Palestinian enclave, Hamas has denied that these are in civilian infrastructure like hospitals.

The Israeli army said Sunday five more soldiers had been killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip, raising the number of troop deaths there to 64 since the war began.

All five died in northern Gaza, where its forces are engaged in a ground operation against Hamas militants, the military said.

Israel began its military campaign to wipe out Hamas after its fighters crossed into southern Israel on October 7. Israel said 1,200 people were killed and some 240 captives taken in the terror attack. Gaza health officials say more than 13,000 Palestinians, including 5,000 children, have been confirmed killed in Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

On the diplomatic front, Michael Herzog, Israeli ambassador to the United States, told ABC’s “This Week” show on Sunday that Israel is “hopeful we can get a significant number of hostages [held by Hamas] freed in the next few days,” with an accompanying short pause in the fighting, possibly lasting five days.

President Joe Biden told reporters Monday he believes a deal to release hostages could be reached soon but declined further comment.

U.S. news reports say about 50 of the estimated 240 hostages held by Hamas — particularly women and children — could be returned to Israel, but it is not clear whether and how many Palestinian prisoners held by Israel might be freed.

Hamas has released four hostages, Israel has rescued one, and the bodies of two Israeli hostages were found near Shifa since the warfare erupted.

Herzog refused to call any cessation in fighting a cease-fire, signaling that Israel plans to resume its attack on Hamas targets after the pause ends.

White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer told CNN’s “State of the Union” show that the U.S. believes it is “closer than we have been perhaps at any point since these negotiations [over the hostage release] began weeks ago.” 

He said, “There are areas of difference and disagreement that have been narrowed, if not closed out entirely,” while adding that no deal has been reached.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said 48 journalists and media workers have been confirmed killed in the region since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel and the subsequent Israeli offensive began.

The CPJ, which documents journalists killed on both sides, said its list of those killed comprises 43 Palestinians, four Israelis and one Lebanese.

VOA’s Eva Mazrieva contributed to this report.

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