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War on Gaza: Israel kills 26 at al-Shifa hospital as shipping giants swerve Red Sea

More than 170 killed as Israeli forces attack medical facilities and refugee camp, as ships re-route to avoid attacks by Yemen's Houthis
People inspect the damage in a room following Israeli bombardment at Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on 17 December 2023 (AFP)
People inspect the damage in a room following Israeli bombardment at Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on 17 December 2023 (AFP)
By Lubna Masarwa in Jerusalem and Rayhan Uddin in London

Renewed Israeli shelling at al-Shifa hospital on Monday killed 26 Palestinians, as shipping giants suspended routes via the Red Sea due to the fear of being attacked by Yemen's Houthis. 

The hospital, the largest medical complex in Gaza, was brought to its knees by Israeli attacks last month, and is barely functioning. However, it remains a shelter for many families displaced by Israeli bombing elsewhere in the enclave.

In northern Gaza, at least 151 Palestinians were killed and 313 wounded on Monday after an Israeli attack on Jabalia refugee camp. Many of those killed still remain under the rubble.

The number of Palestinians killed by Israeli bombardment in Gaza has now reached 19,453 since the start of the war on 7 October, according to the Palestinian health ministry. 

Attacks took place on several other hospitals over the past 24 hours.

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Israeli drones also fired gunshots at the Kamal Adwan hospital on Sunday during a press conference held by health officials, while tanks shelled the maternity ward at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces stormed the al-Awda hospital in the northern Gaza Strip too, after besieging it and bombing it for nearly two weeks.

Medical staff were stripped of their clothes, detained and interrogated for four hours, according to the Palestinian health ministry. 

The director of the hospital, Dr Ahmed Muhanna, was arrested and taken to an undisclosed location. 

He joins the directors of two other hospitals - Kamal Adwan's Dr Ahmed al-Kahlout and al-Shifa's Dr Muhammad Abu Salmiya - who were detained by Israeli forces in recent weeks from Gaza.  

Israel has arrested at least 93 medical personnel, subjecting them to abuse, starvation and extreme cold conditions. 

At least 310 medical personnel have been killed and 102 ambulances destroyed since the start of the war over two months ago. 

Shipping companies avoid Red Sea

Elsewhere, Yemen's Houthis claimed responsibility on Monday for attacking two ships in the Red Sea. 

The attack was carried out using drones and targeted the Swan Atlantic and the MSC Clara. 

Evergreen, the Taiwanese container shipping line, said on Monday that it has decided to temporarily stop accepting Israeli cargo with immediate effect, according to Reuters.

Evergreen also instructed its container ships to suspend navigation through the Red Sea until further notice.

Evergreen added that ships on regional services to Red Sea ports will sail to safe waters nearby and wait for further notification, while container ships that are scheduled to pass through the Red Sea will be rerouted around the Cape of Good Hope to continue their voyages to destination ports.

Meanwhile, BP, one of the world's largest oil and gas companies, said it was pausing passage through the Red Sea. 

“In light of the deteriorating security situation for shipping in the Red Sea, BP has decided to temporarily pause all transits through the Red Sea,” the company said in a statement on Monday. 

Church attack condemned

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani criticised Israeli forces on Monday for shooting and killing people in a Christian compound in the Gaza Strip.

"An (Israeli) sniper shot two women inside a church. This has nothing to do with the fight against Hamas because the terrorists are certainly not hiding in Christian churches," Tajani said, according to Reuters.

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The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Catholic authority in the Holy Land, said at the weekend the two women, named as Nahida Khalil Anton and her daughter Samar, were shot dead in the compound of the Holy Family Parish in Gaza. 

Josep Borrell Fontelles, the EU foreign policy chief, said on Monday that Israel was not distinguishing between people during their military operation in Gaza, as far too many civilians are being killed. 

In a post published on X, he said that “far too many civilians have been killed in Gaza”.

“The Holy Family Church and the Charity Convent, shelters for displaced people, were attacked. Worshippers, three Israeli hostages and hundreds of other civilians have died during the most recent military operations,” he added.

A day earlier, Pope Francis said he deplored reported attacks on churches, suggesting Israel was using "terrorism" tactics in the Gaza Strip.

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