Israel extends occupation of Gaza's Al Shifa hospital in search of evidence of an underground Hamas center | International

Israel extends occupation of Gaza's Al Shifa hospital in search
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The Al Shifa hospital, the largest in Gaza, remains under the control of the Israeli army and cannot be evacuated, despite still housing thousands of refugees and patients, according to the health authorities of the Strip. A day and a half after its occupation, the military searched the facilities this Thursday in search of evidence that proves that this medical center houses the Hamas operations command in the tunnels, as the Israeli authorities have insisted for weeks. So far they have shown only a handful of weapons supposedly found during the search of the complex.

In addition, the Israeli army found this Thursday the body of Judith Weiss, a hostage who was held by Hamas. The Israeli Defense Forces have reported that they found her body in a structure adjacent to Al Shifa Hospital. The body has already been transferred to Israeli territory. In a statement published on its Telegram channel, the army has stated that military equipment, including Kalashnikov and rocket launchers, was also found in the structure where the body was located. Meanwhile, in the West Bank, an attack claimed by the armed wing of Hamas, the Ezedín al Qasam brigades, left one soldier dead and five wounded on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

The director of Al Shifa, Mohamed Abu Salmiya, assures that the Israeli military has taken away the bodies and that they are digging trenches to surround the facilities, according to statements made to the Qatari television network Al Jazeera. The soldiers' operations, in addition to the emergency service, focus on radiology, neonates and the burn wing, he added. Salmiya estimates that, in addition to about 5,000 refugees, there are still 500 medical staff and about 650 patients, including 36 premature babies. There are already more than 11,400 fatalities in the Israeli military operation in Gaza - according to Hamas authorities in the Strip - in response to the Hamas attack on October 7, which caused some 1,200 deaths and, during which the Islamist militia kidnapped 240 people.

Israeli tanks attacked the Al Ahli hospital this Thursday, but its health personnel cannot move to care for the wounded, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent through the social network X (formerly Twitter). The Al Ahli parking lot was already the scene of an explosion in which between 100 and 300 people died on October 17 after the impact of a projectile that, according to the Government of Israel, was launched from within Gaza itself.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, called on the parties this Thursday to “immediately” accept the humanitarian pauses approved by the Security Council and demanded that an international investigation be carried out. “The very serious allegations of multiple and serious violations of international humanitarian law, regardless of who committed them, demand a rigorous investigation and accountability,” Türk told reporters in Geneva, Agence France Presse reports.

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Türk has taken stock of his recent trip to the region, which took him, among other places, to the Rafah crossing, on the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza. The UN official could not, however, visit either Israel or occupied Palestine due to the lack of response from the Israeli authorities. Beyond the Strip, the high commissioner expressed his concern about “the intensification of violence and serious discrimination against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, which also includes East Jerusalem.”

On the other hand, the heads of several United Nations agencies and international humanitarian organizations, including Türk himself, have announced in a joint statement that they will not support the declaration of any “safe zone” that is not agreed upon by the parties in conflict. . In this way they remain outside of unilateral decision-making. “We will not participate in the establishment of any safe zone in Gaza that is established without the agreement of all parties and unless the fundamental conditions are met to ensure that security and other essential needs are met,” those responsible for around twenty UN agencies and international NGOs, including Unicef, the World Health Organization, the World Food Program and Save The Children.

On October 18, after forcing more than a million inhabitants of the northern Strip to move south, the Israeli army directed the population towards Al Mawasi, a coastal area west of Khan Younis that it described as a “zone humanitarian”, where the distribution of aid would be organized. Many of the displaced people fleeing the bombings took refuge in both Khan Younis and Rafah, cities that, however, are also being attacked by Israel.

The wind is increasingly blowing against Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. His political survival is increasingly in question following the failure of the Hamas attack on October 7 for a country obsessed with security. On the one hand, hundreds of relatives of those kidnapped in Gaza are advancing on a five-day protest march on foot from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to arrive on Saturday afternoon at the residence of the head of the Government. On the other hand, centrist Yair Lapid, short-lived prime minister last year, believes it is time to remove Netanyahu from office. He claims in his X account that a majority of Parliament would support a new coalition government led by Netanyahu's own right-wing Likud party.

Blow up Parliament

Meanwhile, troops advance in Gaza City, considered the stronghold of Hamas. The army shows images of its achievements, such as the bombing of the Parliament building shortly after it was taken by the military and the soldiers taking photos inside with the Israeli flag. In the last few hours, the residence in the north of the Strip of the head of the Hamas political apparatus, Ismail Haniya, who lives abroad, has also been attacked from the air. Israel assures that the house was part of the “terrorist” infrastructure from which attacks against its territory were organized.

After several days of siege, troops stormed Al Shifa hospital in the early hours of Wednesday. Since then, these facilities without electricity, water or food continue to be at the center of the war. Israel has insisted for weeks that Al Shifa hosts the central command of Hamas in Gaza, but the fundamentalist militia denies this. The videos that the Israeli military have made public in the last few hours from inside the hospital show some weapons, bulletproof vests, documents, computers and compact discs, which, they claim, prove that the health center was being used as a terrorist base. There is “well-hidden terrorist infrastructure,” defends a military source in statements to the Reuters agency, while soldiers continue to inspect the entire hospital.

A BBC team was authorized to accompany the soldiers inside the complex, but it did not report the existence of that command center in its coverage. Military sources assured British public television reporters that the computers found contained images of some of the hostages captured in the October 7 attack, but British public television indicates that its reporters were not authorized to see the content of the images. computers.

Firearm attack

In parallel to the war in Gaza, tension continues to grow in the occupied West Bank. The outskirts of Jerusalem were the scene of a shooting incident on Thursday morning in which a soldier was killed and five other people injured. The three attackers were killed by the Israeli Security Forces, according to police sources cited by the Israeli press.

The events occurred on the road leading from Jerusalem south through the West Bank. The scene, a construction zone, is located next to the West Bank city of Bethlehem. This is a route widely used by settlers from the numerous settlements in the area and by Palestinians who move towards the Hebron area or other West Bank towns through the only military checkpoint that Israel currently maintains open, just a few kilometers away. from the scene of the shooting.

Since the fighting between Hamas and Israel broke out on October 7, the number of roads blocked by security forces has multiplied in the West Bank. One of them is the one that leads from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, just a dozen kilometers, which requires making the journey along the road where the attack occurred, making a detour of more than twice as many kilometers.

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