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War on Gaza: Israeli forces attack two Jabalia hospitals as Rafah offensive intensifies

Israel's blockade on aid and intensified assault on Rafah have forced a UN agency to halt food distribution
Palestinians evacuate Kamal Adwan Hospital following an Israeli strike in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, 21 May 2024 (Reuters/Osama Abu Rabee)
Palestinians evacuate Kamal Adwan Hospital following an Israeli strike in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, 21 May 2024 (Reuters/Osama Abu Rabee)

Israeli forces attacked two hospitals in the northern Gaza Strip as they pushed deeper into the Jabalia refugee camp and increased bombardment of crowded Rafah districts.

Artillery shelling hit al-Awda Hospital, north of Jabalia, which has been under Israeli siege since the weekend. 

Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia was also shelled, forcing bed-ridden patients and medical staff to evacuate. 

On Monday, the medical team at al-Awda said that snipers were “aiming at the building and an artillery rocket hitting the fifth floor, where the administration department is located,” according to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“We are deeply concerned about the safety of the remaining patients and hospital staff. We appeal for their protection, for humanitarian access and an immediate ceasefire,” Ghebreyesus said on X. 

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In Kamal Adwan, shells struck the gates of the emergency department, according to hospital director Hossam Abu Sfiya.

Other Israeli bombings were reported across the Gaza Strip, targeting areas in Rafah and Khan Younis.

An air strike in the crowded Yabna refugee camp in Rafah killed three children on Tuesday, Al Jazeera Arabic said. 

According to the Palestinian health ministry, 85 people were killed and 200 wounded in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll since 7 October to 35,647.

'Israel is destroying the camp on the heads of the people'

- Abu el-Nasser, Jabalia refugee camp resident

Meanwhile, Israeli forces continued to push deeper into Jabalia refugee camp under the cover of heavy aerial bombardment. 

The ground assault on Jabalia camp, located north of Gaza, began almost two weeks ago and has led to some of the most intense fighting between Hamas and Israeli troops since the start of the war. 

Israeli tanks and bombardment have laid waste to residential districts, with military bulldozers razing shops and property, residents have told Reuters. 

"Israel is destroying the camp on the heads of the people. The bombardment never stops,” said Jabalia refugee camp resident Abu el-Nasser.

“The world is calling for more food to enter Gaza. We want to spare lives, not extra food."

Unrwa food distribution suspended

Israel intensified its war on Gaza earlier this month by sending more troops into Rafah and northern Gaza while blocking the entry of humanitarian aid. 

On Tuesday, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa, said that food distribution in Rafah was suspended due to lack of supplies and insecurity.

It added that it had received no medical supplies in the past 10 days due to "closures/disruptions" at the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings into Gaza, which were seized by Israeli troops earlier this month.

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, WHO Director-General Ghebreyesus called on Israel to lift its blockade on aid. 

"At a time when the people of Gaza are facing starvation, we urge Israel to lift the blockade and let aid through,” he said. 

“Without more aid flowing into Gaza, we cannot sustain our lifesaving support of hospitals."

Displaced Palestinians queue for water at a camp west of Deir al-Balah in the Gaza Strip on 21 May 2024 (AFP)
Displaced Palestinians queue for water at a camp west of Deir al-Balah in the Gaza Strip on 21 May 2024 (AFP)

Meanwhile, Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir stated his intention to resettle Israelis in the enclave once the war comes to an end.

Speaking to Israeli TV, the far-right minister said Israel should have complete control of the Gaza Strip after the fighting ends and re-populate it with Jewish settlements throughout the territory.

He added that they would encourage "voluntary migration" of the Palestinian residents of the enclave.

Elsewhere, Israeli authorities seized a camera and broadcasting equipment belonging to the Associated Press in southern Israel on Tuesday.

In a statement, AP “decried in the strongest terms the actions” of Israeli authorities, saying the interference was due to an "abusive use by the Israeli government of the country’s new foreign broadcaster law."

The law was passed in April primarily as a means to shut down Al Jazeera. The Qatari broadcaster is one of the "thousands" of clients who used its footage.

"We urge the Israeli authorities to return our equipment and enable us to reinstate our live feed immediately so we can continue to provide this important visual journalism to thousands of media outlets around the world," said AP.

According to the news agency, officials from the Communications Ministry arrived at the AP location in the southern town of Sderot on Tuesday afternoon and seized the equipment.

They also handed them a piece of paper, signed by Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, stating it was violating the foreign broadcaster law.

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