The Israeli military said it had entered Gaza’s largest hospital early Wednesday local time, breaking a standoff against the facility thought to serve as a hub of Hamas military activities, according to Israel’s military and media reports.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it was carrying out “a precise and targeted operation” against Hamas in a localized area of the Al-Shifa Hospital, which it has so far balked at entering due to the medical personnel and patients in the facility, s, according to The Associated Press. But Israeli authorities have said it serves as a primary nodes for the Hamas terrorist groups‘ military operations.
“IDF forces are carrying out a precise and targeted operation against Hamas in a specified area in the Shifa Hospital, based on intelligence information and an operational necessity,” Israel’s military said in a social media statement. “The IDF is conducting a ground operation in Gaza to defeat Hamas and rescue our hostages. Israel is at war with Hamas, not with the civilians in Gaza.”
The IDF said it warned multiple times over recent weeks that Hamas’ continued use of the hospital for military purposes was endangering its status as a protected non-military target under international law.
Hamas has denied the accusations, the AP reported.
“The IDF forces include medical teams and Arabic speakers, who have undergone specified training to prepare for this complex and sensitive environment, with the intent that no harm is caused to the civilians being used by Hamas as human shields,” The statement said.
The IDF had given Gaza authorities a 12 hour deadline to cease military activities in the hospital, the statement said.
“Unfortunately, they did not,” the IDF said.
#Gaza map update
The #IDF have commenced an operation within part of the Shifa hospital after completing an encirclement of the building complex.#Israel have also secured the Al Shati camp, therefore linking their northern and southern advances. pic.twitter.com/IhLDpc2ieJ
— War Mapper (@War_Mapper) November 15, 2023
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said Tuesday the U.S. has independent intelligence confirming Israel’s claim the Hamas terrorist group uses the hospital as a cover for military activities and holding hostages.
“Hamas and the Palestinian — Palestinian Islamic Jihad — PIJ — members operate a command-and-control node from Al-Shifa in Gaza City. They have stored weapons there, and they’re prepared to respond to an Israeli military operation against that facility,” Kirby said.
Conditions at the hospital have rapidly deteriorated, the AP reported.
The Shifa operation follows an expanded campaign into northern Gaza as the IDF seized control of more territory on Tuesday, including Gaza’s legislature building and police headquarters, according to the AP.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Tuesday that Hamas had “lost control” of northern Gaza, the AP reported.
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