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Israel-Palestine war: Israel bombs area around al-Quds hospital where thousands are sheltering

Red Crescent says Israeli strikes have been increasing in the vicinity, coming to within 50 metres of the hospital
A displaced Palestinian boy looks after his twin siblings as they take shelter at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, 29 October 2023 (Reuters)

The Israeli military on Sunday targeted an area in the vicinity of al-Quds hospital multiple times, the Palestine Red Crescent (PRCS) said, after it sent the medical staff warnings to “immediately evacuate”.

"We refuse the evacuation order. We don't have the means to evacuate. We have 400 patients, many in the intensive care unit, evacuating means killing them," Nebal Farsakh, a PRCS spokesperson, said. 

The Red Crescent said that since Sunday morning, Israeli raids have targeted areas just 50 metres from the hospital.

"The Israeli army deliberately continues to launch rockets directly near al-Quds hospital with the aim of forcing medical staff, displaced individuals and patients to evacuate the hospital," the medical organisation said in a statement.

"There are oxygen generation stations in the eastern and northern parts of the hospital, in addition to three electricity generators in the northern part of the hospital. This poses a severe danger, as shelling could potentially lead to a massive fire in the area."

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Hospitals across Gaza have reached breaking point and are dangerously overcrowded. As almost 1.4 million people in Gaza are now internally displaced, thousands have taken shelter in hospitals.

Al-Quds, which also accommodates PRCS personnel and ambulances, is hosting around 14,000 displaced Palestinians, the majority women and children.

The Red Crescent said that the bombing near the hospital on Sunday had caused damage to the building and exposed patients, medical staff and displaced people to smoke inhalation. 

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Since Israel cut off all electricity, fuel and water to the besieged enclave on 9 October, hospitals have been overwhelmed, with a lack of life-saving resources, a high volume of critically wounded patients and thousands of people seeking shelter.

The hospitals that are still working are running on generators, which health officials say won't last long. 

'Deeply concerning'

The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed alarm over the Israeli order to evacuate al-Quds hospital, saying the threats were "deeply concerning".

“​​We reiterate - it’s impossible to evacuate hospitals full of patients without endangering their lives,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director of the WHO, said on X (formerly Twitter).

“Under international humanitarian law, healthcare must always be protected.”

Israel-Palestine war: Gaza's doctors refuse to abandon patients as Israel pounds hospitals
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Earlier, the Palestinian health ministry called on the international community to pressure Israel to cease its attacks on health infrastructure, displaced people and medical aid. 

In a statement on Sunday, Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesperson for the health ministry, said that al-Quds's operations were already being hindered by the thousands of displaced people seeking refuge in the building.

The Red Crescent said people sheltering in the hospital were experiencing “fear and anxiety” due to the threats from the Israeli military.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, when asked about the warnings received by the hospital, told CBS show Face the Nation that he had not heard of these calls.

"What I can tell you is that hospitals are critical civilian infrastructure. Under international humanitarian law, hospitals should not be targeted. They are not military targets," Sullivan said.

Israel has bombed several hospitals in the Gaza Strip since the conflict started on 7 October, and has threatened many with evacuation orders.

On 17 October, an attack on al-Ahli hospital killed hundreds of people, many of whom were displaced Palestinians.

At least 8,000 Palestinians have been killed, the large majority women and children, since Israel unleashed a violent bombing campaign on Gaza on 7 October, when Hamas conducted an unprecedented attack on southern Israeli towns.

Around 1,400 Israelis were killed and more than 200 people were taken hostage.

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