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Israel alerts wider operations in southern Gaza as search of hospital has but to disclose Hamas base

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KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Israeli forces dropped leaflets warning Palestinians to flee components of southern Gaza, residents stated Thursday, signaling a doable growth of operations to areas the place a whole bunch of 1000’s of people that heeded earlier evacuation orders are crowded into U.N.-run shelters and household properties.

In the meantime, troopers continued looking out Shifa Hospital within the north, in a raid that started early Wednesday however has but to uncover proof of the central Hamas command middle that Israel has stated is hid beneath the advanced. Hamas and workers on the hospital, Gaza’s largest, deny the allegations.

Broadening the offensive to the south — the place Israel already carries out day by day air raids — threatens to worsen an already extreme humanitarian disaster within the besieged territory. Over 1.5 million individuals have been internally displaced in Gaza, with most having fled to the south, the place meals, water and electrical energy are more and more scarce.

The struggle, now in its sixth week, was triggered by a wide-ranging Hamas assault into southern Israel on Oct. 7 wherein the militants killed over 1,200 individuals, largely civilians, and captured some 240 males, ladies and youngsters. Israel responded with a weekslong air marketing campaign and a floor invasion of northern Gaza, vowing to take away Hamas from energy and crush its navy capabilities.

Greater than 11,200 Palestinians have been killed, two-thirds of them ladies and minors, in response to Palestinian well being authorities. One other 2,700 have been reported lacking, with most believed to be buried below the rubble. The official depend doesn’t differentiate between civilian and militant deaths.

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Israeli troops on Wednesday stormed into Gaza’s largest hospital, looking for traces of Hamas inside and beneath the ability, the place newborns and a whole bunch of different sufferers have suffered for days with out electrical energy and different primary requirements.

Troops had been looking out the underground ranges of the hospital on Thursday and detained technicians chargeable for operating its tools, the Well being Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza stated in an announcement.

After encircling Shifa for days, Israel confronted strain to show its declare that Hamas was utilizing the sufferers, workers and civilians sheltering there to supply cowl for its fighters. The allegation is a part of Israel’s broader accusation that Hamas makes use of Palestinians as human shields.

The navy launched video from inside Shifa confirmed three duffel baggage it stated it discovered hidden round an MRI lab, every containing an assault rifle, grenades and Hamas uniforms, in addition to a closet that contained quite a lot of assault rifles with out ammunition clips. The Related Press couldn’t independently confirm the Israeli claims that the weapons had been discovered contained in the hospital.

Hamas and Gaza well being officers deny militants function in Shifa — a hospital that employs some 1,500 individuals and has greater than 500 beds. The Palestinians and rights teams accuse Israel of recklessly endangering civilians.

Munir al-Boursh, a senior official with Gaza’s Well being Ministry contained in the hospital, stated that for hours, the troops ransacked the basement and different buildings, together with these housing the emergency and surgical procedure departments, and searched the grounds for tunnels. Troops questioned and face-screened sufferers, workers and folks sheltering within the facility, he stated, including that he didn’t know if any had been detained.

“Sufferers, ladies and youngsters are terrified,” he informed the AP by cellphone Wednesday.

The navy stated its troops killed 4 militants exterior the hospital in the beginning of the operation, however by way of days of combating there have been no experiences of militants firing from inside Shifa. There have been additionally no experiences of any combating throughout the hospital after Israeli troops entered.

The navy stated it was finishing up a “exact and focused operation” in a particular space of the hospital, and that its troopers had been accompanied by medical groups bringing in incubators and different provides.

At one level, tens of 1000’s of Palestinians fleeing Israeli bombardment had been sheltering at Shifa, however most left in current days because the combating drew nearer. The destiny of untimely infants on the hospital has drawn specific concern.

The Well being Ministry stated 40 sufferers, together with three infants, have died since Shifa’s emergency generator ran out of gas Saturday. There was no speedy phrase on the situation of one other 36 infants, who the ministry stated earlier had been susceptible to dying as a result of there isn’t a energy for incubators.

The leaflets, dropped in areas east of the southern city of Khan Younis, warned civilians to evacuate the world and saying anybody within the neighborhood of militants or their positions “is placing his life in peril.” Comparable leaflets had been dropped over northern Gaza for weeks forward of the bottom invasion.

Two native reporters who stay east of Khan Younis confirmed seeing the leaflets. Others shared pictures of the leaflets on social media.

Protection Minister Yoav Gallant stated Wednesday the bottom operation will ultimately “embrace each the north and south. We are going to strike Hamas wherever it’s.”

The navy says it has largely consolidated its management of the north, together with seizing and demolishing authorities buildings. Video launched by the military Thursday confirmed troopers transferring between closely broken buildings by way of holes blown of their partitions.

On Thursday, the navy stated it had blown up a residence belonging to Ismail Haniyeh, a senior Hamas chief based mostly overseas. It was unclear if anybody was contained in the constructing.

Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million individuals have already crowded into the territory’s south, the place a worsening gas scarcity threatens to paralyze the supply of humanitarian companies and shut down cell phone and web service.

Situations in southern Gaza have been deteriorating as bombardment continues to stage buildings. Residents say bread is scarce and grocery store cabinets are naked. Households {cook} on wooden fires for lack of gas. Central electrical energy and operating water have been out for weeks throughout Gaza.

Israel allowed a small quantity of gas to enter Gaza for on Wednesday, for the primary time for the reason that struggle started, in order that the U.N. company for Palestinian refugees, which is offering primary companies to a whole bunch of 1000’s of individuals, might proceed bringing restricted provides of help by way of the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

The gas can’t be used for hospitals or to desalinate water, and covers lower than 10% of what the company must maintain “lifesaving actions,” stated Thomas White, the company’s Gaza director.

The Palestinian telecom firm Paltel, in the meantime, stated it anticipated companies to halt later Wednesday due to the dearth of gas or electrical energy. Gaza has skilled three earlier mass communication outages for the reason that floor invasion.

If Israeli troops transfer south, it isn’t clear the place Gaza’s inhabitants can flee, as Egypt refuses to permit a mass switch onto its soil.


Chehayeb reported from Beirut. Related Press author Amy Teibel in Jerusalem contributed to this report.


Full AP protection at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

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