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War on Gaza: Israel pummels Khan Younis, damaging field hospital and razing cemetery

Israeli jets and tanks kill several Palestinians near Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza after night of 'terrifying' attacks
This picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardment on 17 January 2024 (AFP)
This picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardment on 17 January 2024 (AFP)
By Lubna Masarwa in Jerusalem and Rayhan Uddin in London

The Jordanian army on Wednesday accused Israel of a "flagrant breach of international law" after its field hospital in southern Gaza's Khan Younis was badly damaged by Israeli overnight shelling.

This came after Israeli forces heavily shelled and bombed the vicinity of Nasser Hospital, the main medical facility in Khan Younis, on Tuesday night, killing at least 23 people. 

A Palestinian taking shelter with his family in the hospital described a night of terror and chaos, as Israeli jets and tanks pummelled areas nearby. 

Mohammad Rami, a father of three, said many families taking shelter in tents in the hospital's yards and the nearby Austrian district were forced to flee late at night, fearing the hospital would be raided or bombed.    

"It was very cold and the bombing was terrifying," Rami told Middle East Eye. "Some went to schools but many spent the night on the streets."

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Israeli tanks, which came within metres of the Jordanian military field hospital near Nasser Hospital, retreated on Wednesday morning, according to eyewitnesses. 

Despite the Israeli retreat, artillery shelling and gunfire continued to be heard in Al-Manara and Batn Al-Sameen neighbourhoods of Khan Younis, Rami said. 

Several children were among those killed, as dozens of homes were levelled by Israel's multi-pronged attack from air and land.  

Cemetery razed

Residents say Israeli forces razed a cemetery in the Austrian district and stole several bodies. MEE has reached out to the Israeli military for comment. 

Palestinians in southern Gaza fear the attacks around Nasser Hospital were a prelude to a wider assault on the facility, similar to the targeting of al-Shifa hospital to the north last year. 

Elsewhere over the past 24 hours, Israeli bombardment killed Palestinians in Jabalia and Beit Hanoun in the north, according to Wafa news agency. 

cemetery khan younis
Palestinians check damaged graves at a cemetery following an Israeli raid in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on 17 January 2024 (Ahmed Zakot/Reuters)

Dozens were killed and wounded after air strikes targeted homes in the An-Nafaq area of Gaza City, too, it added.

Israeli forces killed at least 163 Palestinians and wounded 350 more across the Gaza Strip over the past 24 hours, the Palestinian health ministry said.

That brought the death toll of Palestinians killed in Gaza since war broke out on 7 October to 24,448.

At least 61,504 people have been wounded in the besieged territory over that period, while more than 7,000 others are missing and likely to be dead under the rubble. 

Two Israeli soldiers were killed during fighting in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, bringing the death toll among Israeli forces to over 600 since 7 October. Nearly 200 of them have been killed since the start of the ground operation in the enclave. 

In the occupied West Bank, Israeli drone strikes killed at least seven Palestinians on Wednesday morning. 

Air strikes during a raid on Tulkarm refugee camp killed four Palestinians, according to the health ministry, houes after another air attack killed three people near Balata refugee camp in Nablus. 

US relists Houthis as terrorist organisation

Elsewhere, the US on Wednesday relisted the Houthis as a terrorist group, US officials announced. 

Officials said the "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" (SDGT) designation, which targets the group with harsh sanctions, was aimed at cutting off funding and weapons the Houthis have used to attack or hijack ships in vital Red Sea shipping lanes, as a response to Israel’s war on Gaza.

The White House’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the designation, which comes into effect in 30 days, could be reevaluated if the Houthis stop their attacks in the Red Sea.  

Iran's foreign minister said that attacks against Israel and its interests by the "Axis of Resistance" would only stop if the Gaza war ends. 

"An end to the genocide in Gaza will lead to an end of military actions and crises in the region," Hossein Amir-Amirabdollahian said at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday.

"The security of the Red Sea is tied to the developments in Gaza, and everyone will suffer if Israel's crimes in Gaza do not stop ... All the (resistance) fronts will remain active."

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