Israel advances towards Gaza’s largest operational hospital

The new incursion put the Israeli tanks near the Nasser Hospital, in Khan Younis, that has refuges and patients inside.

On Friday, Israeli tanks initiated a new incursion into the main city in southern Gaza, which has become a refuge for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing the Israeli bombardment. The tanks are once again nearing the largest operational hospital in the enclave.

The Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, which has been compelled to accommodate displaced Gazans in addition to its regular patients, reported the sound of shellfire from tanks advancing into the city’s west. Residents also reported intense gunfights in the southern part of the city.

According to the Gaza health ministry, the previous 24 hours saw 142 Palestinians killed and 278 injured. Israeli officials have alleged that Hamas fighters are operating from Nasser Hospital, a claim that the hospital staff refutes.

The Israeli bombardment and subsequent ground invasion, launched in response to Hamas’ assault on towns and villages around Gaza on October 7, have largely depopulated the northern two-thirds of the 46-kilometer (29-mile) coastal strip. The United Nations reports that approximately 85% of the 2.3 million population have been forced to seek shelter in the south – the area that is now the focus of Israel’s campaign to eliminate the Hamas movement that governs Gaza.

The ability of people to monitor current threats, report attacks, or check on relatives – as well as the operation of rescue services – has been significantly hampered by a near-total telecommunications blackout. Now in its eighth day, this is the longest outage since the war began.

Palestinian health officials reported that twelve people were killed in Israeli strikes on a residential building near the largely non-operational Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, located in the northern part of the enclave.

Israeli forces have made limited withdrawals from northern Gaza this month, stating that operations there are largely complete. However, Palestinians in the southern Gaza City suburb of Tel Al-Hawa reported that Israeli tanks re-entered the neighborhood, forcing people sheltering in some schools there to evacuate and head further south.

The Islamic Jihad militant group reported engaging with Israeli forces in the Al-Bureij and Al-Maghazi refugee camps in central Gaza and in Khan Younis. Meanwhile, Hamas’s armed wing reported clashes with Israeli forces in several areas across Gaza overnight and on Friday morning.

The Israeli military stated that it is continuing operations in central and northern Gaza, seizing weapons and killing “several armed terrorists”. On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Israeli forces had destroyed “16 or 17” out of 24 of Hamas’ organized combat regiments, but warned that clearing the territory of militants would take “many more months”.

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