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Israeli strikes hit Gaza hospitals, schools and other shelters for displaced

Israeli strikes have continued to batter the Gaza Strip since Israel’s ground invasion began 15 days ago. As the Israeli military has encircled Gaza City and reached deep within, air and ground strikes have hit locations throughout the enclave where thousands of displaced people are known to be sheltering, including hospitals and schools.

At least two strikes since the invasion have hit Shifa hospital, Gaza’s largest medical complex, where the United Nations has said 60,000 people are sheltering. On Friday, Israel struck near the hospital’s entrance, killing 15 people, according to Gaza’s health ministry and the Palestine Red Crescent Society. Israel has said that Hamas has a command center under the hospital and that the strike targeted an ambulance being used by a terrorist cell.

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On Monday, a strike on the top floor at the same hospital killed one child, said Mohammed Abu Salmiya, head of the hospital. Israel denied responsibility for the Monday attack.

Gaza’s health ministry said a strike last week killed 15 people at Al Fakhura school, where 16,000 people were sheltering. Other strikes have hit a medical complex that contains Rantisi hospital and Nasr children’s hospital, which has been sheltering about 16,000 displaced people, as well as al-Quds hospital, which has been sheltering 14,000.

Reports from Wafa, the state-run news agency of the Palestinian Authority, have additionally mentioned strikes on or in the vicinity of at least three other hospitals and five other schools.

Many strikes since the invasion have also hit densely populated, developed neighborhoods in Gaza that are designated as refugee camps, which are home to Palestinians and their descendants who fled or were expelled from their homes in the 1940s war that surrounded the creation of Israel.

It is unclear how many people remain in each of Gaza’s refugee camp neighborhoods, particularly in the north, since tens of thousands of residents followed Israel’s orders to evacuate to southern Gaza. What is certain is that many others have been unable to flee safely, and strikes in both the north and the south have resulted in numerous casualties.

Strikes on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 on Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip killed at least 195 people and injured hundreds more, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run government media office, and left a 40-foot-wide crater. The Israeli military said the strike had targeted Hamas militants, including a central figure in the Hamas-led attacks in Israel on Oct. 7. Reports from Wafa have also mentioned attacks on the Jabalia neighborhood on several other days, some with dozens of fatalities. The casualty counts could not immediately be independently confirmed.

Refugee camp neighborhoods in the south, below the evacuation boundary established by Israel, have also been struck, including multiple times in Nuseirat, Bureij and Maghazi. A strike on Maghazi last weekend killed at least 47 people, Gaza’s health ministry said, with the death toll expected to rise. A spokesperson for the Israeli military said it was looking into reports of the strike.

In Gaza, about 1.5 million people are internally displaced, according to a U.N. estimate.

(Published 11 November 2023, 04:35 IST)

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