Shell hits Gaza hospital, killing 12, as heavy fighting breaks out
Khan Younis: A shell hit the second floor of a hospital in northern Gaza, killing at least 12 people, according to the Hamas-led Health Ministry and a medical worker, as Israeli troops focus on clearing medical facilities where they say Hamas militants take cover.
Heavy fighting broke out around the Indonesian Hospital, which has housed thousands of patients and displaced people for weeks.
The fighting came a day after the World Health Organization evacuated 31 premature babies from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the territory’s largest, where they were among more than 250 critically ill or wounded patients stranded there days after Israeli forces entered the compound.
Israel says Hamas uses civilians and hospitals as shields, while critics say Israel’s siege and relentless aerial bombardment amount to collective punishment of the territory’s 2.3 million Palestinians after Hamas’ October 7 rampage into southern Israel.
More than 11,500 Palestinians two-thirds of them women and minors have been killed since the war began, according to Palestinian health authorities, who do not differentiate between civilian and militant deaths. About 2,700 people are reported missing.
Some 1,200 people have been killed in Israel, mostly during the October 7 attack, and around 240 were taken captive by militants.
Egypt’s state-run media say babies evacuated from Gaza’s embattled Shifa hospital have arrived in Egypt.
The Palestinian Red Crescent rescue service said it was transporting 28 premature babies from a hospital in southern Gaza to another across the border in Egypt on Monday. Egypt’s Al-Qahera satellite channel broadcast images of the babies inside Egyptian ambulances, without specifying how many had arrived.
On Sunday, the World Health Organization said 31 premature babies in “ extremely critical condition “ had been evacuated from Gaza’s largest hospital and would be transferred to Egypt for specialised care. There was no immediate explanation of the differing numbers.
More than 250 patients with severely infected wounds or other urgent conditions remain stranded at Shifa Hospital days after Israeli forces entered the compound. Four other babies died in the two days before the evacuation on Sunday, according to Mohamed Zaqout, the director of Gaza hospitals.
Shifa can no longer provide most treatment after it ran out of water, medical supplies and fuel for emergency generators because of a territory-wide blackout. Israeli forces battled Palestinian militants outside its gates for days before entering the facility last Wednesday.
Japan on Monday condemned the hijacking of a Japanese-operated cargo ship in the southern Red Sea and said it is doing its utmost to achieve the release of the vessel and its 25 crew members.
“The government of Japan absolutely condemns such an act,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels seized the Israeli-linked cargo ship and took its crew hostage on Sunday, raising fears that regional tensions heightened by the Israel-Hamas war were spilling into the seas. The Iran-backed rebel group said it would continue to target ships connected to Israel.
No Israelis were aboard the Bahamas-flagged ship Galaxy Leader, which was operated by Japan’s NYK Line with crew members from the Philippines, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Mexico and possibly Romania. Public shipping databases associated the ship’s owners with Ray Car Carriers, a company founded by Abraham Ungar, who is known as one of the richest people in Israel.
Ungar told The Associated Press he was aware of the incident but couldn’t comment as he awaited details. A ship linked to him experienced an explosion in 2021 in the Gulf of Oman. Israeli media blamed it on Iran at the time.
Matsuno said Japan is negotiating with Houthi rebels, while also communicating with Israel and cooperating with the governments of Saudi Arabia, Oman and Iran to achieve the release of the ship and its crew.
NYK Line said the Galaxy Leader was seized off the Yemeni coast while heading to India.