The hospitals of Gaza City appear to have become a focal point in the conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas, with aid groups, local officials and medical professionals reporting increased Israeli strikes at and near medical facilities.
Doctors Without Borders said attacks on Al-Shifa hospital — the largest in the Gaza Strip — had “dramatically intensified” overnight, with staff there reporting a catastrophic situation” inside.
Dr. Adnan Albursh, a surgeon at the hospital, said in a phone interview with NBC News at around midnight local time: “Every time, every minute, we hear bombing around us.” He said that many people had left the complex, but that thousands remained.
Israel’s military says Hamas uses hospitals as operational bases and hides weapons in tunnels underneath them, although Hamas denies these charges. Last week, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said: “Hamas systematically exploits hospitals as part of its war machine.”
Meanwhile in London, U.K., hundreds of thousands of people are expected to join a pro-Palestinian march.
The city’s Met Police said that 2,000 officers will be on duty this weekend as part of a major policing operation to oversee the march.
Situation at al-Shifa hospital is ‘catastrophic,’ Doctors Without Border says
The situation at Al-Shifa Hospital is worsening, according to the Doctors Without Borders charity, which called for an end to the attacks and for the protection of “medical facilities, medical staff and patients.”
“Over the last few hours, the attacks against Al-Shifa Hospital have dramatically intensified. MSF staff at the hospital reported a catastrophic situation inside just a few hours ago,” the aid agency (which is also known as Médecins Sans Frontière) said in a social media post.
It added that it is unable to contact its staff inside the hospital — the biggest in the Gaza Strip.
A further tweet cited Dr. Mohammed Obeid, an MSF surgeon in Al-Shifa, who said he would not leave his patients.
“There is a patient who needs surgery. There is a patient who’s already asleep in our department. We cannot evacuate ourselves and [leave] these people inside. As a doctor. I swear to help the people who need help,” he said, according to the tweet.
— Katrina Bishop
Macron says Israel must stop killing babies and women in Gaza
French President Emmanuel Macron said Israel must stop killing babies and women in Gaza. Speaking to U.K. broadcaster the BBC, he said there was “no justification” for the bombings.
“De facto — today, civilians are bombed — de facto. These babies, these ladies, these old people are bombed and killed. So there is no reason for that and no legitimacy. So we do urge Israel to stop,” he said in an exclusive interview.
Read the full report here.
— Matt Clinch
Hundreds of thousands to join pro-Palestinian march in London
London’s Met Police said that 2,000 officers will be on duty across central London this weekend as part of a major policing operation, with hundreds of thousands expected to join a pro-Palestinian march on Saturday.
The march coincides with Armistice Day and has drawn criticism from some U.K. politicians.
“We know the cumulative impact continued protest, increasing tensions, and rising hate crimes are having across London and the fear and anxiety our Jewish communities in particular are feeling. They have a right to feel safe in their city, knowing … they can travel across London without feeling afraid of intimidation or harassment,” the Met said in a statement Friday.
Al Shifa hospital director: ‘Israel is now launching a war on Gaza City hospitals’
“Israel is now launching a war on Gaza City hospitals,” said Mohammad Abu Selmeyah, director of Al Shifa hospital.
He said later that at least 25 people were killed in Israeli strikes on Al-Buraq school in Gaza City, where people whose homes had been destroyed were sheltering.
Gaza officials said missiles landed in the courtyard of Al Shifa, the enclave’s biggest hospital, in the early hours, damaged the Indonesian Hospital and reportedly set fire to the Nasser Rantissi pediatrics cancer hospital.
Israel’s military said later that a misfired projectile launched by Palestinian militants in Gaza had hit Shifa.
The hospitals are in northern Gaza, where Israel says the Hamas militants who attacked it last month are concentrated, and are full of displaced people as well as patients and doctors.
Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said the Hamas headquarters was in Shifa hospital’s basement, which meant the hospital could lose its protected status and become a legitimate target.
Israel says Hamas hides weapons in tunnels under hospitals, charges Hamas denies.
Israeli tanks, which have been advancing through northern Gaza for almost two weeks, have taken up positions around the Nasser Rantissi hospital as well as the Al-Quds hospital, medical staff said earlier, raising the alarm.
Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said Israel had bombed Shifa hospital buildings five times.
“One Palestinian was killed and several were wounded in the early morning attack,” he said by phone. Videos verified by Reuters showed scenes of panic and people covered in blood.
Israel lowers Oct. 7 death toll to 1,200 people, ministry says
Israel’s Foreign Ministry says the official death toll in Hamas’ bloody Oct. 7 cross-border attack into Israel has been lowered to 1,200 people.
Israeli officials have previously estimated the death toll at 1,400.
The ministry gave no reason for the revision. But an Israeli official said the number had been changed after a painstaking weekslong process to identify bodies, many of which were mutilated or burned.
The official said the final death toll could still change. He said a number of bodies have not been identified and it is unclear whether all of the nearly 240 hostages believed to be held by Hamas are still alive.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity pending an official government announcement.
— Associated Press
UN: ‘Half of Gaza’s 36 hospitals’ are not functioning at all
The World Health Organization says 20 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are no longer functioning, including a pediatric hospital that has stopped operations after a reported Israeli strike in the area.
WHO spokeswoman Dr. Margaret Harris said Friday that Rantisi Children’s hospital in the north of the enclave was no longer operating, and it was not immediately clear what has happened to the patients inside.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said earlier that Israeli forces had struck overnight the area around Shifa Medical Complex, the largest hospital in Gaza, killing six Palestinians, and bombed areas near several other hospitals including the Rantisi hospital.
“If there is a hell on earth today, its name is northern Gaza.”
— Jens Laerke, U.N. humanitarian agency spokesperson
Harris said WHO does not try to assign responsibility for strikes.
Harris said some children had been receiving care such as dialysis and life support which doesn’t allow for their safe evacuation.
She added that “hospitals never should be a target.”
“If there is a hell on earth today, its name is northern Gaza,” the U.N. humanitarian agency spokesperson, Jens Laerke, told reporters in Geneva.
— Associated Press
Columbia University suspends Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace chapters
Columbia University has suspended their student chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) through the end of the fall term, according to a statement.
“This decision was made after the two groups repeatedly violated University policies related to holding campus events, culminating in an unauthorized event Thursday afternoon that proceeded despite warnings and included threatening rhetoric and intimidation,” said Gerald Rosberg, Columbia’s senior executive vice president and chair of the Special Committee on Campus Safety.
This means that both groups will not be allowed to hold events on campus or receive university funding, according to Rosberg.
“Lifting the suspension will be contingent on the two groups demonstrating a commitment to compliance with University policies and engaging in consultations at a group leadership level with University officials,” Rosberg said.
— Associated Press
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‘Far too many Palestinians have been killed,’ Blinken says; Gaza health ministry says hospitals hit in strikes