Nasser hospital in 'catastrophic' condition as Israeli troops raid

Nasser hospital in 'catastrophic' condition as Israeli troops raid By A Robin - February 17, 2024
Nasser hospital

Nasser hospital

Israel's military claims it has captured "dozens" of terror suspects during a raid on southern Gaza's main hospital, as staff and patients were forced to flee under gunfire.

Israel said it launched a "precise and limited mission" at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, adding it had intelligence that Hamas had held hostages there.

Hamas dismissed the claim as "lies".

The hospital's director told the BBC that conditions inside were "catastrophic and very dangerous".

The Israel Defense Forces' chief spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said among those captured was a participant in Hamas's attack inside Israel on 7 October, "an ambulance driver for Hamas" who had driven a hostage into Gaza, and a member of the armed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine group.

He said that interrogations of "terrorists who were arrested or surrendered in the area" and the testimonies of freed hostages, had "determined that kidnapped Israelis were previously held in the hospital compound".

However, he said Israeli special forces involved in the hospital raid had yet to find any evidence of kidnapped Israelis and that the search was continuing.

His comments came hours after images, verified by the BBC, showed medical staff rushing patients on stretchers through a corridor filled with smoke or dust.

One patient - who is still in their bed - can be seen being moved through a corridor where the ceiling is damaged.

Other patients can also be seen, including one person being carried away in what looks like a blanket.

In another clip, people can be seen placing furniture and other items against a door as a narrator states in English that Israeli forces are about to enter.

A nurse inside the hospital told the BBC that a "large number of dogs" had been released inside the hospital during the operation.

Nahed Abu-Teima the director of Nasser, told BBC Arabic that there had been "violent shelling and severe explosions" for several hours "in the vicinity of the complex".

He said the patients who had remained at the facility were "piled up in wards" with critical injuries and appealed to the UN and Red Cross to "save" them and the staff.

Nasser is one of the few hospitals still functioning in Gaza, and has been the scene of intense fighting between the IDF and Hamas for days.

Thursday's operation came a day after the IDF ordered thousands of displaced people who had been sheltering at the site to leave.

Israel's military said it had assured Nasser hospital staff that patients and staff were not obliged to leave, and that medics could continue treating Gazan patients.

Dr Ashraf al-Quadra, a spokesperson for the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, denied that was the case, saying Israeli troops had forced the hospital management to "keep intensive care patients without medical equipment".

A pharmacist who works in the hospital, Rawan Al-Mughrabi, was among those evacuated by Israeli forces on Wednesday.

She told BBC Arabic there was "a state of panic that made people [being evacuated] stand on top of each other and scream. Many people were harmed, and others returned to the hospital.

"As soon as we left the hospital gate and reached the checkpoints, the entire hospital and departments were stormed by police dogs, and while we were standing at the checkpoints, many people were arrested.

"Most of the medical cases were evacuated from the hospital, and only the very critical cases remained," she said.

On Wednesday, the UN's humanitarian office said there were allegations of sniper fire at the complex, putting the lives of doctors, patients and displaced people at risk.

The medical charity Medicins San Frontieres said those ordered to evacuate faced an impossible choice - to stay "and become a potential target" or leave "into an apocalyptic landscape" of bombings.

Israel launched its military offensive after waves of Hamas fighters burst through Israel's border on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people - mainly civilians - and taking 253 others back to Gaza as hostages.

The Hamas-run health ministry says more than 28,600 people, mainly women and children - have been killed in Israel's campaign. Israel says its aim is to destroy Hamas and secure the return of the hostages.

Israel is facing increasing international pressure to show restraint. On Wednesday France's President Emmanuel Macron phoned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to say Israel's operations in Gaza "must cease" and that the human cost of the Gaza operation was "intolerable".

But Mr Netanyahu insisted his troops will advance on the Gazan city of Rafah, which has already come under bombardment. Some 1.4 million Palestinians are sheltering in the area.

The prime ministers of Australia, Canada and New Zealand issued a joint statement expressing their "grave concern" that a military operation in Rafah would be "catastrophic".


By A Robin - February 17, 2024

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