Israeli security forces have dropped leaflets warning Palestinians to flee parts of southern Gaza. Residents gave this information on Thursday. This signals a possible expansion of Israeli troops’ offensive into the area, where most of the population has fled to escape Israel’s bombardment and ground attack. Meanwhile, Israeli troops continued a search of Shifa hospital in the north that began early Wednesday. Israeli soldiers showed some guns and said they were found in a building but have not yet released any evidence of a Hamas central command center, which Israel has said is hidden beneath the complex. Hamas and the staff of Gaza’s largest hospital have denied the allegations.
Israel has expanded the campaign in the south, where it already conducts daily airstrikes. The besieged area is already at risk of a serious humanitarian crisis. More than 1.5 million people have been internally displaced in Gaza, most of whom have fled to the south, where food, water and electricity shortages are increasing. It is unclear where else they might go, as Egypt has refused to accept large numbers of refugees into its country. The region was again cut off from the outside world on Thursday when a fuel shortage cut off all communication services, according to a Palestinian telecommunications provider. The war is now in its sixth week. It was triggered by a massive attack by Hamas in southern Israel on October 7, in which the militants killed more than 1,200 people, mostly civilians.
The terrorists had also taken about 240 men, women and children hostage. Israel responded with a week-long air campaign and ground invasion of northern Gaza, vowing to oust Hamas from power and crush its military capabilities. According to Palestinian health officials, more than 11,200 Palestinians have been killed in the attacks, two-thirds of whom are women and minors. Another 2,700 people were reported missing, most of whom were feared trapped under the debris. Israel says it has killed thousands of fighters. Tension has increased elsewhere because of the war. On Thursday, gunmen shot and wounded four people at a checkpoint on the main road linking Jerusalem with Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
According to police, three attackers were killed in the incident. Police said the attackers had assault rifles, handguns and axes and were preparing for a large-scale attack in Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers stormed Gaza’s largest hospital on Wednesday and searched inside and under it for Hamas members. Newborn babies and hundreds of other patients in the said hospital had to suffer for days without electricity and other basic necessities. Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said in a statement that troops searched the hospital’s underground floors on Thursday and detained technicians responsible for operating its equipment. The army said its troops were accompanying medical teams that had brought incubators and other equipment.
After a days-long siege of Shifa, Israel is facing pressure to prove its claims that Hamas used patients, staff and civilians there to hide its fighters. The Israeli military released a video from inside Shifa showing three bags. They were said to have been hidden in the vicinity of an MRI lab and each contained an assault rifle, grenades and Hamas uniforms. There was also a closet containing several assault rifles, the army said. The Associated Press could not independently verify Israel’s claim that weapons were found inside the hospital. Hamas and Gaza health officials deny that militants use shifa.
It is a hospital that employs approximately 1,500 people and has more than 500 beds. Palestinians and human rights groups have accused Israel of endangering civilians. Inside the hospital, Munir al-Borash, a senior Gaza health ministry official, said soldiers ransacked basements and other buildings, and interrogated patients, staff and people seeking shelter and scanned their faces. The health ministry said 40 patients, including three infants, had died after Shifa’s emergency generator ran out of fuel on Saturday. There was no information on the condition of the other 36 infants, whom the ministry earlier said were at risk of death.
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