Random Image Display on Page Reload

Israel strikes near Gaza’s largest hospital after accusing Hamas of using it as a base

Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes early Sunday near Gaza's largest hospital, which residents say is packed with patients and tens of thousands of Palestinians seeking shelter. Israel has said Gaza's militant Hamas rulers have a command post under the hospital, without providing much evidence.

Internet and phone services coming back online in Gaza after more than 24-hour outage

Palestinians evacuate a building destroyed in the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in Rafah on Sunday.

Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes early Sunday near Gaza's largest hospital, which residents say is packed with patients and tens of thousands of Palestinians seeking shelter, residents said.

Israel has said Gaza's militant Hamas rulers have a command post under the hospital, without providing much evidence.

The strikes came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a "second stage" in Israel's war on Hamas, three weeks after it launched a brutal incursion into Israel on Oct. 7.

Tanks and infantry pushed into Gaza over the weekend in what officials described as a widening ground offensive as Israel pounded the territory from air, land and sea.

Communications restored

The bombardment — described by Gaza residents as the most intense of the war — knocked out most communications in the territory late Friday, largely cutting off the besieged enclave's 2.3 million people from the world. Communications were restored to many people in Gaza early Sunday, according to local telecom companies, internet-access advocacy group NetBlocks.org and confirmation on the ground.

Residents said the latest airstrikes destroyed most of the roads leading to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, in the northern part of the besieged territory. Israel says most residents have heeded its orders to flee to the south, but hundreds of thousands remain in the north, in part because Israel has also bombarded targets in so-called safe zones.

Tens of thousands are sheltering in Shifa, which is also packed with patients wounded in the strikes.

"Reaching the hospital has become increasingly difficult," Mahmoud al-Sawah, who is sheltering in the hospital, said over the phone. "It seems they want to cut off the area." Another Gaza City resident, Abdallah Sayed, said the Israeli bombing over the past two days was "the most violent and intense" since the war started.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment when asked about reports of strikes near Shifa.

The army recently released computer-generated images showing what it said were Hamas installations in and around Shifa Hospital, as well as interrogations of captured Hamas fighters. Israel has made similar claims before, but has not substantiated them.

Little is known about Hamas's tunnels and other infrastructure, and the claims could not be independently verified. Hamas's government dismissed the allegations as "lies" and said they were "a precursor for striking this facility."

On Saturday, the Israeli military released grainy images showing tank columns moving slowly in open areas of Gaza, apparently near the border, and said warplanes had bombed dozens of Hamas tunnels and underground bunkers.

Palestinians stand inside a building destroyed in the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in Rafah on Sunday.

The escalation ratcheted up domestic pressure on Israel's government to secure the release of some 230 hostages seized in the Oct. 7 rampage when Hamas fighters from Gaza breached Israel's defences and stormed into nearby towns, gunning down civilians and soldiers in a surprise attack.

PM meets with hostage families

Desperate family members met with Netanyahu on Saturday and expressed support for an exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

Hamas's top leader in Gaza, Yehia Sinwar, said Palestinian militants "are ready immediately" to release all hostages if Israel releases all of the thousands of Palestinians held in its prisons. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesperson, dismissed the offer as "psychological terror."

Netanyahu told the nationally televised news conference that Israel is determined to bring back all the hostages, and maintained the expanding ground operation "will help us in this mission." He said he couldn't reveal everything that is being done due to the sensitivity and secrecy of the efforts.

Netanyahu also acknowledged that the Oct. 7 "debacle," in which more than 1,400 Israelis were killed, would need a thorough investigation, adding that "everyone will have to answer questions, including me."

The Israeli military said it was gradually expanding its ground operations inside Gaza, while stopping short of calling it an all-out invasion. Casualties on both sides are expected to rise sharply as Israeli forces and Palestinian militants battle in dense residential areas.

Israeli forces have also traded fire with Palestinian militants in the occupied West Bank, where over 100 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war, mostly during military raids and violent protests. The Palestinian Health Ministry said three Palestinians were killed early Sunday as Israeli forces carried out raids across the occupied territory, where Israel says it has detained hundreds of Hamas members.

The Palestinian death toll in Gaza rose Saturday to just over 7,700 people since the war began, with 377 deaths reported since late Friday, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. Most of those killed have been women and minors, the ministry said.

An estimated 1,700 people remain trapped beneath the rubble, according to the Health Ministry, which has said it bases its estimates on distress calls it received.

*****
Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

Check Also

Prosecutors charge 2 men with murder in Kansas City Super Bowl parade shooting

Missouri prosecutors said Tuesday that two men have been charged with murder in last week's …