ISRAELI forces have reached the gates of Gaza’s main hospital where they believe a Hamas terrorist command cell is lurking in the tunnels underneath.
Scores of IDF troops and tanks have the Al Shifa hospital surrounded amid growing fears for the hundreds of civilians trapped inside.Satellite image of the Al Shifa hospital where hundreds are reportedly trapped without fuel, sufficient food and water or medical supplies[/caption]
It is not yet known whether the IDF plans to storm the hospital in a ground raid or not.
Israel’s pause in fighting announced today on Twitter ends at 2pm and was applied only to the city of Rafah, near the Egypt border.
The Al Shifa hospital, the largest in Gaza City, has come under fire amid IDF war efforts in the Strip and has become a focal point in the war.
The Israeli military believes terror group Hamas’ main command centre is located under the hospital complex and senior leaders of the group are hiding there, using the facility as a shield.
The EU condemned Hamas on Sunday for using “hospitals and civilians as human shields” in the besieged enclave, but also urged Israel to show “maximum restraint” and protect civilians.
Dozens of newborn babies are trapped there in incubators that are not working as medical staff struggle with the lack of supplies, food, water and capacity as well as vital fuel.
World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Ghebreyesu said in a Twitter post on Sunday that “the hospital is not functioning as a hospital anymore”.
Around 650 patients and 500 healthcare workers are reportedly inside the hospital complex.
Surgeon Dr Mokhallalati told Reuters today: “The tanks are in front of the hospital. We are under full blockade. It’s a totally civilian area.
“Only hospital facility, hospital patients, doctors and other civilians staying in the hospital. Someone should stop this.”
Israel claimed to have delivered hundreds of litres of fuel to the hospital after its main generator ran out over the weekend.
It said Hamas had refused to accept Israel’s offer of fuel.
The IDF today added: “In the last 24 hours, the IDF delivered 300 liters of fuel to the Shifa Hospital’s doorstep, yet the fuel remains untouched after Hamas threatened hospital staff.”
Israeli PM Netanyahu said on Sunday: “Hamas, (which) is hiding in the hospitals and placing itself there, doesn’t want the fuel for the hospital … they want to get fuel that they’ll take from the hospitals to their tunnels, to their war machine.”
A statement from Hamas today claimed that the fuel was only enough to keep the hospital running for just over half an hour, and that it was “not good enough”.
“The offer belittles the pain and suffering of the patients who are trapped inside without water, food, or electricity.
“This quantity is not enough to operate hospital generators for more than 30 minutes,” the statement read.
Ashraf al Qidra, a spokesman for Hamas-led health ministry in Gaza, told Reuters that 8,000 to 10,000 litres are needed each day.
The Gaza health ministry also said three babies out of the 45 kept in incubators had died by Sunday along with 29 other patients.
Israel has said it tried to evacuate babies from the hospital, and has warned civilians to leave using a safe corridor.
IDF Lt Col Richard Hecht said: “Sadly, the only thing standing between Shifa hospital and the fuel it needs is Hamas. It’s very cynical.
“If the fuel comes into the hospital they can operate the electricity for the incubators but sadly Hamas is meddling.
“It’s very tragic and sad. We are talking as much as we can to the hospital. It’s also a risk for them to speak to us.”
One doctor in the hospital said of the infants: “We are expecting to lose more of them day by day.”
Hamas and hospital staff deny the claim that a terror command cell is hidden in tunnels underneath the facility and say the Israeli military is using a pretext to strike it.
Israel revealed photographs, diagrams and audio recordings to show how Hamas was using the centre to hide a variety of command posts and entry points into the extensive tunnel network under Gaza.
Hamas has a mysterious 311-mile maze of tunnels riddled with traps that sprawl underground in Gaza.
The IDF claims to have so far destroyed at least 130 tunnel entrances since the war erupted just over a month ago.
Hidden up to 100ft below the surface, the entrances are enclosed under the floors of homes, mosques and schools – allowing fighters to move unseen between homes and alleyways within Gaza.
It is used by the warped group to transport people and goods as well as store rocks and ammunition.
Hamas’ command and control centres are also housed in the intricate system away from Israel’s watch.
According to the IDF, Hamas has lost control of northern Gaza after claiming to have “divided the enclave” in two.
It continues to hunt down terrorist strongholds in Gaza, including one crucial Hamas cell they captured last week after a bloody ten-hour gunfight.
It has not given specifics on troop movements as it presses its ground assault, vowing to crush Hamas after its deadly October 7 assault inside Israel.
But Palestinian residents said Israeli forces had moved closer to the centre of Gaza City amid intense bombardment all around the surrounding north.
Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry claims over 11,000 people have been killed throughout the bloody conflict but questions have been raised about the accuracy of the fatality figures.
Israel says Hamas killed over 1,200 people in their attacks on October 7.The Al Shifa hospital, pictured by the IDF to show where Hamas’ underground HQ is apparently based[/caption] Israel provided images to show the network of tunnels ‘hidden’ underneath the hospital used to help Hamas conduct its attacks[/caption] An Israeli soldier reportedly walks towards a building carrying containers to deliver fuel to Al Shifa hospital[/caption] Israeli armoured tanks on the ground in Gaza[/caption] Explosions erupt during Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip on Sunday evening[/caption] Hamas weapons apparently uncovered during IDF operations[/caption]