GAZA: A World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson said on Friday that the Al-Shifa hospital was “coming under bombardment,” adding that 20 other hospitals in Gaza were also completely out of action.
Asked about the Gaza health ministry’s allegation of an Israeli strike on the hospital courtyard, WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said: “I haven’t got the detail on Al-Shifa but we do know they are coming under bombardment.”
Asked to elaborate, she said there was “intense violence” at the site, quoting colleagues on the ground.
The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip said Friday an Israeli strike on the territory’s largest hospital killed 13 people.
“Thirteen martyrs and dozens wounded in an Israeli strike on Al-Shifa compound today” in central Gaza City, a government statement said, giving a toll AFP was not immediately able to independently verify.
Al-Shifa hospital director Mohammad Abu Salmiya said “Israeli tanks fired on Al-Shifa hospital,” while the Israeli military did not offer an immediate comment.
Graphic video shared on social media and verified by Reuters on Friday shows a number of dead and wounded, including children in an area of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza.
A Reuters correspondent said video appeared to have been made in a covered, outdoor area near the hospital’s outpatient department, where displaced people had been sleeping.
The Israeli army has repeatedly accused Hamas of using hospitals, particularly Al-Shifa, to coordinate their attacks against the army and also as hideouts for its commanders.
Hamas authorities and doctors deny the accusations.
“With ongoing strikes and fighting nearby (Al-Shifa), we are gravely concerned about the well-being of thousands of civilians there, many children among them, seeking medical care and shelter,” Human Rights Watch said on social media site X.
Al-Rantisi Pediatric Hospital and Al-Nasr Children’s Hospital have been witnessing a series of direct attacks and bombardments on Friday.
Indonesia’s foreign ministry said on Friday there were explosions near the Indonesian Hospital overnight, which damaged parts of the hospital, located at the northern end of the narrow coastal enclave. It did not say who was responsible for the explosion and it did not report any deaths or injuries.
“Indonesia once again condemns the savage attacks on civilians and civilian objects, especially humanitarian facilities in Gaza,” the ministry said in a statement.
The month-old Israeli military campaign aimed at wiping out Hamas left Gaza’s hospitals struggling to cope, as medical supplies, clean water and fuel to power generators had been running out.
Gaza’s health ministry has said 18 of Gaza’s 35 hospitals and 40 other health centers were out of service either due to damage from shelling or lack of fuel.
Iran says expansion of Israel-Hamas war ‘inevitable’
Meanwhile Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Friday that expansion of the Israel-Hamas war has become “inevitable,” amid widespread concern in the region and beyond that the conflict could spread.
“Due to the increasing intensity of the war against the civilian residents of Gaza, the expansion of the scope of the war has now become inevitable,” Amir-Abdollahian said to his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in a phone call.
US says Israel agrees to pauses
Israel says 1,400 people, mostly civilians, were killed and about 240 taken hostage by Hamas in the Oct.7 raid that triggered the Israeli assault.
Israel says it has lost 35 soldiers in Gaza.
Palestinian officials said 10,812 Gazan residents had been killed by Thursday, about 40 percent of them children, in air and artillery strikes.
Israel’s military advance on central Gaza city, which brought tanks within about 1.2 kilometer (3/4 mile) of Al-Shifa, according to residents, has raised questions about how Israel will interpret international laws on protecting medical centers and displaced people sheltering there.
Deadly air strikes on refugee camps, a medical convoy and near hospitals have already prompted fierce arguments among some of Israel’s Western allies over its military’s adherence to international law.
The Israeli military has allowed some wounded Palestinian civilians to cross into Egypt for treatment.
US President Joe Biden said in a post on X on Thursday that Israel had “an obligation to distinguish between terrorists and civilians and fully comply with international law.”
The White House said on Thursday that Israel agreed to pause military operations in parts of north Gaza for four hours a day, but there was no sign of a let-up in the fighting.
The pauses, which would allow people to flee along two humanitarian corridors and could be used for the release of hostages, were significant first steps, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested any pauses would be scattered, and there was no official confirmation of a plan for recurring breaks.
Asked if there would be a “stoppage” in fighting, Netanyahu said on the Fox News Channel: “No. The fighting continues against the Hamas enemy, the Hamas terrorists, but in specific locations for a given period of a few hours here or a few hours there, we want to facilitate the safe passage of civilians away from the zone of fight and we’re doing that.”