Thank you for joining The New Arab's live blog on Israel's war in Gaza, which will resume tomorrow at 8:00 AM GMT.
Israeli troops storm Gaza's main Al-Shifa hospital, site of mass grave
Israeli forces raided Gaza's largest hospital on Wednesday morning, bringing to a head weeks of growing concern for the people trapped inside in horrific conditions as fuel and medical supplies run out.
After warnings from the United States and others that Al-Shifa must be protected, Israel said the raid was being executed based on "an operational necessity".
Israel claimed that it was targeting a Hamas command centre in tunnels beneath thousands of patients and civilians seeking refuge from intense combat in Gaza, which the Israeli military has indiscriminately bombarded non-stop for 40 days, killing over 11,400 people, mostly civilians.
Hamas has repeatedly denied concealing a base at the hospital.
Spanish social rights minister @ionebelarra has accused Israel of carrying out a "live genocide" in Gaza and proposed a legal initiative to bring Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to the ICC for war crimes 👇 pic.twitter.com/q8uYjanU5p— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) November 14, 2023
Dozens of Israeli soldiers, some wearing face masks and shooting in the air, ordered young men to surrender, a journalist in contact with AFP said.
Youssef Abu Rish, an official from the Gaza health ministry who was in the hospital, told AFP he could see tanks inside the complex and "dozens of soldiers and commandos inside the emergency and reception buildings".
Witnesses have described conditions inside the hospital as horrific, with medical procedures taking place without anaesthetic, families with scant food or water living in corridors and the stench of decomposing corpses filling the air.
The Jewish Voice for Peace lobby group has accused police in Washington, DC, of violently assaulting peaceful protesters who rallied at the Democratic Party’s national committee headquarters to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Video posted on social media showed scores of police pushing and shoving protesters. There were reports of arrests and claims that police used pepper spray against the peaceful protesters who had linked arms outside the party’s offices.
Photos posted on social media showed protesters wearing black T-shirts stenciled with "Cease Fire Now" in white letters scuffling with police officers trying to pull them away from the building's entrance.
Police in the US capital said about some 150 people were "illegally and violently protesting", the Associated Press news agency reported.
Only one of 24 hospitals with in-patient capacity is able to admit the sick and injured in the north of the Gaza Strip, the UN has warned, as three hospitals shut in the past three days alone.
Eighteen hospitals in total are now out of service due to a number of reasons - particularly fuel shortages. Meanwhile, another five hospitals can only provide limited care to patients already admitted, including Al-Shifa Hospital, which was attacked and placed under siege by Israeli soldiers on Wednesday.
The Palestinian Red Cross is also no longer able to respond to the hundreds of calls seeking help to save people trapped under the rubble of buildings bombed by Israeli forces, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said in its latest Gaza situation report.
Japanese police arrested a man on Thursday after a car crash near the Israeli embassy in Tokyo, local media reported.
Footage showed that a small car crashed into a fence at an intersection around 100 metres (109 yards) from the embassy. Media also reported that one police officer was lightly injured.
The motive behind the incident is yet to be confirmed.
Israeli forces have raided the Al-Shifa hospital, west of Gaza City, for the second time within 24 hours, the Palestinian news agency Wafa said.
Local sources said that Israeli bulldozers and tanks raided the medical complex from its western entrance tonight.
The Israeli tanks have been surrounding the Al-Shifa hospital with military tanks for the past week.
Around 50 civilians were killed and dozens of others injured tonight in a new massacre carried out by Israeli warplanes in the Sabra neighbourhood in the centre of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian official news agency Wafa said.
Sources reported that the occupation warplanes targeted a mosque in the Sabra neighbourhood in the center of the Strip, killing around 50 people, in addition to dozens of wounded.
Additionally, three Palestinians were killed and dozens of others injured in an Israeli airstrike targeting the Malaysian school in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the centre of the territory.
Israeli warplanes also targeted Palestinian telecommunications towers in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis, killing a child and injuring several others.
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he had made it clear to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a two-state solution was the only answer to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict and that occupying war-hit Gaza would be a mistake.
Opposition leader and former Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid has called on Benjamin Netanyahu to resign.
"This government isn’t functioning, we need change, Netanyahu cannot continue to be prime minister, we cannot allow ourselves to conduct a prolonged [military] campaign with a prime minister that the public has no faith in," Lapid said.
Netanyahu has been facing backlash in Israel for his handling of the hostage situation in Gaza, as over 200 people were kidnapped by Hamas on October 7.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) slammed US President Joe Biden for 'giving a blank chequ" to Benjamin Netanyahu,, following Israel's attack earlier on Al-Shifa Hospital.
"The Israeli government has shown there's no limit to the human rights abuses it will commit as long as the Biden administration continues to give Benjamin Netanyahu a blank check."
"Through its statements and actions, our government gave the Israeli government the green light for this latest crime against humanity. This violence must stop."
CAIR, one of the top Muslim groups in the US, also condemned the March for Israel that took place yesterday for inviting John Hagee to speak, who has been faced with Islamophobia and antisemitism.
More than two dozen Palestinian cancer patients, who had crossed from Gaza into Egypt, arrived in Turkey for treatment in the early hours of Thursday, Turkey's Anadolu agency reported.
Two planes carrying the patients, many of them children, landed at Ankara airport shortly after 00:30 am local time (2130 GMT).
Turkey has sent a ship loaded with material for field hospitals, ambulances and generators to Egypt to treat civilians who have been able to flee Israel's military operation against Hamas militants in the enclave.
urkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 27 patients had been flown to Turkey from Egypt, along with 13 companions, without specifying whether these were doctors or family members.
He added that the cancer patients had been able to cross from Gaza into Egypt via the Rafah border crossing.
Koca had been in Egypt for discussions on the delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and said the patients were able to be transferred to Turkey thanks to "coordination between Turkey, Egypt and Israel".
He also said that Turkey was waiting for Egypt's permission to open its first field hospital at the Rafah crossing.
"I hope that in the near future -- our efforts are going in this direction -- we will be able to establish a field hospital in Gaza, in the area near the Rafah gate," he said.
The health ministry in the Gaza Strip said early on Thursday that the Israeli army had deployed bulldozers at the Al-Shifa Hospital, which Israel claims sits above a Hamas command centre.
"Israeli bulldozers destroyed parts of the southern entrance" to the hospital, the ministry said in a statement.
The Israeli army told AFP that an operation is currently underway at the hospital complex.
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry said it condemns in the strongest terms the Israeli bombing in the vicinity of the Jordanian field hospital in Gaza, which resulted in the injury of seven hospital staff as they were treating wounded Palestinians.
The Ministry's official spokesman said that Israel's endangerment of the hospital and its staff during its bombing of Palestinian brothers is an unacceptable and condemnable crime and represents a clear violation of international law.
The Palestinian Health Ministry says Israeli forces arrested two in-house engineers at Al-Shifa Hospital, a flashpoint of Tel Aviv's war in Gaza.
The ministry said those detained are Al-Shifa’s sole electric generator mechanic, and the only technician for oxygen stations who is present at the hospital.
Riyad Mansour, Palestine's representative at the UN, said that Israel has violated all international norms by raiding Al-Shifa hospital and is still being treated as a state above the law.
"Apparently, no crime, no matter how grave, is enough for the international community, including the Security Council, to say to Israel: Stop," he expressed.
"Calls for restraint are clearly not working,” he added. “The demands for respect of international law must be backed by immediate, serious, collective efforts to enforce the law."
Russia's oral amendment calling for an "immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce, leading to a cessation of hostilities" introduced by Malta has failed to get support at the UN Security Council.
Nine members abstained, while only five members voted in favour. One member - the United States - voted against.
The UNSC, however, voted in favour of a humanitarian pause resolution, with twelve members voting in favour.
The US, UK and Russia abstained with no member voting against the resolution.
Qatar on Wednesday urged an international investigation into Israeli raids on medical facilities in the Gaza Strip, denouncing as a "war crime" Israel's latest operation inside Al-Shifa hospital targeting Hamas.
The Qatari foreign ministry in a statement called for "an urgent international investigation" including by the United Nations to look into "the targeting of hospitals by the Israeli occupation army".
Israeli forces raided and then combed through Al-Shifa, Gaza's largest hospital, before withdrawing and redeploying around its outskirts, a journalist trapped inside the facility told AFP.
Israel accuses Palestinian militants of using the compound for military purposes, which Hamas has denied.
Doha deemed the Israeli raid "a war crime and a blatant violation of international laws".
The SNP amendment for a ceasefire in Gaza in the UK parliament has been lost, results have shown.
The results read out as:
- 293 votes against
- 125 vote in favour
The death toll in the war-torn Gaza Strip has reached 11,500 including at least 4,710 children and 3,160 women, government official said on Wednesday.
Some 29,800 people have also been wounded amid Israel's indiscriminate bombardment, according to the government, which has struggled to keep an exact toll of casualties amid intense fighting in northern Gaza and telecommunications blackout.
A number of Labour MPs have resigned today, ahead of a vote in the UK parliament on a ceasefire in war-hit Gaza.
Afzal Khan, the shadow minister for exports, withdrew from the party so he can vote for the SNP's amendment calling for a ceasefire in the territory.
Khan, MP for Gorton in Greater Manchester, said on X: "Today, I will be voting for the motion calling on the UK Govt to support a #CeasefireNow in Gaza. With 11,000+ Gazans killed supporting a full & immediate ceasefire is the very least we can do."
"In order to be free to do so, I have stepped down as Shadow Minister for Exports," he added.
Today, I will be voting for the motion calling on the UK Govt to support a #CeasefireNow in Gaza. With 11,000+ Gazans killed, supporting a full & immediate ceasefire is the very least we can do.— Afzal Khan MP (@Afzal4Gorton) November 15, 2023
In order to be free to do so, I have stepped down as Shadow Minister for Exports 👇 pic.twitter.com/v78vo4SOq3
Yasmin Qureshi, the shadow women and equalities minister and MP for Bolton South, also stepped down.
Qureshi said: "The scale of bloodshed in Gaza is unprecedented. Tonight, I will vote for an immediate ceasefire."
"We must call for an end to the carnage to protect innocent lives and end human suffering. With regret, I have stepped down as shadow women and equalities minister," she further said in her statement.
The Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree, Paula Barker, also handed in her resignation.
Barker, the shadow minister for devolution and the English regions, said she was stepping down as a "consequence of following my conscience and voting for the amendment for a ceasefire."
Jess Phillips, the MP for Birmigham Yardley, also put forward her resignation.
The scale of bloodshed in Gaza is unprecedented. Tonight, I will vote for an immediate ceasefire.— Yasmin Qureshi MP (@YasminQureshiMP) November 15, 2023
We must call for an end to the carnage to protect innocents lives and end human suffering.
With regret, I have stepped down as Shadow Women and Equalities Minister. pic.twitter.com/ZJUikElfGk
The health ministry in the war-hit Gaza Strip said no weapons were found at hospital raided by Israeli troops.
The Israeli army, however, said they found weapons, combat gear and technological equipment in Al-Shifa hospital on Wednesday, and are continuing their search of the complex, chief Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said.
The military also released a video that they said showed some of the material recovered from an undisclosed building in the hospital, including automatic weapons, grenades, ammunition and flak jackets.
This is a developing story. More to come soon...
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen will travel to Egypt and Jordan on November 18, an EU Commission spokesperson wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
She will meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo and travel to the Sinai to welcome the arrival of EU humanitarian aid before meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman.
Von der Leyen has received criticism for expressing support for Israel's "right to self-defence" on a number of occasions despite the disproportionate attacks on civilians in Gaza.
(Reuters and The New Arab Staff)
French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday harshly condemned the bombardment of civilian infrastructure in Israel's raging war in Gaza.
"We condemn in the strongest terms all bombardment of civilians and in particular civilian infrastructure, which must be protected" under international law, Macron told reporters in Bern during a state visit to Switzerland.
A journalist trapped inside Gaza's largest hospital told AFP on Wednesday that Israeli troops had withdrawn from the building after entering it overnight and have redeployed around its outskirts.
During Wednesday's operation, troops had interrogated dozens of civilians, some of whom were stripped to their underwear, all of whom were released when the troops withdrew, said the journalist in contact with AFP.
More than two dozen Palestinian cancer patients, many of them children, who have crossed from Gaza into Egypt will be brought for treatment to Turkey, Turkey's health minister said Wednesday.
Turkey has sent a ship loaded with material for field hospitals, ambulances and generators to Egypt to treat civilians who have been able to flee Israel's bombardment of Gaza.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 26 Palestinian cancer patients had entered Egypt through the Rafah border crossing on Wednesday.
"We plan to take these 26 patients to Turkey today," he said in televised remarks from the El Arish airport in Egypt.
He said the group will be flown to Turkey "with 13 companions", without specifying whether these were doctors or family members.
Koca added that Turkey was waiting for Egypt's permission to open its first field hospital at the Rafah crossing.
"I hope that in the near future - our efforts are going in this direction - we will be able to establish a field hospital in Gaza, in the area near the Rafah gate," he said.
The United States did not give Israel any kind of green light for its raid on Gaza's main hospital, the White House said Wednesday, adding that such decisions were for the Israeli military.
"We did not give an OK to their military operations around the hospital," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters after Hamas said President Joe Biden was "wholly responsible" for the raid.
Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday but Kirby declined to say whether the US president had been given forewarning of the offensive.
"I won't go into detail about the conversation," he said, adding however that "there's no expectation by the United States to map it all out."
The United States had "certainly talked to them about concerns over civilians."
The White House on Tuesday backed up Israeli claims that Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants had a command center under the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, something Hamas has denied.
"We are comfortable with our own intelligence assessment," Kirby said on Wednesday.
UN aid chief Martin Griffiths on Wednesday implored Israel to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing in Israel as part of a 10-point plan to respond to the population's needs.
"Kerem Shalom, please Israel, give us that for our crossing point," Griffiths told reporters in Geneva.
The Kerem Shalom crossing was used to carry more than 60% of the truckloads going into Gaza before this conflict, Griffiths said.
The Israeli army dropped leaflets over Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, calling on its residents to 'evacuate immediately' and head for shelter.
It said those living near 'terrorists' were putting their lives at risk, adding that any home being used by 'terrorists' for military operations against Israel would be targeted.
The Israeli army asks the residents of eastern Khan Yunis in southern Gaza (Al-Qarara, Khuza’a, Bani Suhaila, and Abasan) to evacuate immediately and go to known shelters. Can someone tell me where these known shelters are? pic.twitter.com/I6IAM0WK5I— Yousef D. Hammash (@YousefHammash) November 15, 2023
Rockets fired from Gaza landed in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, north of the Palestinian enclave.
Videos shared online showed the barrage of missiles above Ashkelon, and the moment one of them hit the ground.
The attack caused some damage but no casualties, reports said.
Update |— Warfare Analysis (@warfareanalysis) November 15, 2023
Video shows a rocket was launched buy Al-Qassam brigades today from Gaza hitting Ashkelon. pic.twitter.com/t92mxe6VR9
⚡️Damage in Ashkelon after a rocket from Gaza landed there pic.twitter.com/75Orj92hf8— War Monitor (@WarMonitors) November 15, 2023
The Palestinian population should not pay the price for the atrocities committed by Hamas against Israel, France said on Wednesday, expressing "serious concern" about Israeli operations inside the Al-Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip.
"The Palestinian population should not be made to pay for Hamas' crimes, even less so the vulnerable, injured or sick and the humanitarian workers who courageously continue their work in extremely dangerous conditions," the French foreign ministry said in a statement.
Qatari mediators were on Wednesday seeking to negotiate a deal between Hamas and Israel that includes the release of around 50 Israeli hostages from Gaza in exchange for a three-day ceasefire, an official briefed on the negotiations told Reuters.
The deal, under discussion, which has been coordinated with the US, would also see Israel release some Palestinian women and children from Israeli jails and increase the amount of humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza, the official said.
It would mark the biggest release in hostages held by Hamas since its surprise attack on Israel on October 7.
Hamas has agreed to the general outlines of this deal, but Israel has not and it is still negotiating the details, the official said.
It is not known how many Palestinian women and children Israel would release from its jails as part of the agreement under discussion.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Wednesday there is no safe place for the Hamas militants behind the 7 October attacks and "no place in Gaza" the army wouldn't reach.
"They told us we wouldn't reach the outskirts of Gaza City and we did, they told us we wouldn't enter Al-Shifa (hospital) and we did," he said hours after troops raided the territory's biggest hospital.
"There is no place in Gaza that we won't reach."
Relatives of the Israeli hostages held in Gaza are stepping up pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu's government to reach a prisoner swap deal with Hamas.
On Tuesday, dozens of Israelis began a 5-day march from Tel Aviv that will culminate in a rally outside the Israeli prime minister's office in West Jerusalem.
The purpose of the march is to muster support for an immediate release of all the hostages held in Gaza by Hamas and other armed groups since October 7.
Read the full article here.
Several Palestinians in Gaza say that the International Committee of the Red Cross has been ignoring their calls to help and is willfully failing "in its obligations" to protect civilians.
"We appealed to the ICRC hundreds of times to help us rescue my friend and her entire family in the al-Nasr neighbourhood, but they did not answer us," Mariam Kamal, one young woman, said to The New Arab.
Read full article here.
115 UK MPs have signed a statement calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying that the "horrendous levels of killings of civilians" must end. The UK House of Commons is set to vote today on the situation in Gaza. Both Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the Conservative Party and Labour leader Keir Starmer have failed to back a ceasefire in Gaza, despite the killing of over 11,000 civilians, calling only for temporary "humanitarian pauses". The UK MPs' statement points out that Israel may be violating international law in its attacks and that multiple UN agencies have called for a ceasefire.
Over 115 UK Parliamentarians demand Rishi Sunak and UK Government support a ceasefire in Gaza, and an end to the horrific killings. #ceasefirenowhttps://t.co/QIWuKC08c2@RishiSunak @David_Cameron @tariqahmadbt @Keir_Starmer @DavidLammy pic.twitter.com/yjttFoSdzp— Caabu (@Caabu) November 15, 2023
Just hours after receiving its first delivery of fuel since the Gaza war began on October 7, the UN warned Wednesday its operations in Gaza were on the brink of collapse.
"To have fuel for trucks only will not save lives anymore," said Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
"Our entire operation is now on the verge of collapse," the UNRWA chief wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
Our entire operation is now on the verge of collapse.— Philippe Lazzarini (@UNLazzarini) November 15, 2023
By the end of today, around 70 % of the population in #Gaza won’t have access to clean water.
To have fuel for trucks only will not save lives anymore. Waiting longer will cost lives.
Israeli forces claimed to have found weapons and "terror infrastructure" during an on-going raid at one specific location within Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, a senior military official said on Wednesday.
"IDF soldiers have already found weapons and other terror infrastructure. In the last hour, we saw concrete evidence that Hamas terrorists used the Shifa hospital as a terror headquarter," the official claimed, declining to be named.
A previous Israeli army video claiming to have found evidence of the presence of Palestinian fighters at the Al-Rantisi children's hospitals has been widely ridiculed.
Fuel that entered Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah border crossing on Wednesday was "not at all enough", the United Nations agency for supporting Palestinian refugees said.
"This is the equivalent of half a truck! Not at all enough. Much more is needed. Fuel is being used as weapon of war, this must stop," UNRWA said on X, formerly Twitter.
In a separate post, UNRWA confirmed receiving 23,027 litres (6,083 gallons) of fuel, saying it met only "nine percent" of what the agency needs daily to sustain lifesaving work.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday urged Israel to end the "indiscriminate killing of Palestinians" in Gaza, in his sharpest crticism of Israel since since war against Hamas broke out over a month ago.
The Socialist premier reiaterated he "stood with Israel" in "its response to the terrorist attack" carried out by Hamas in October, and promised his new government would "work in Europe and in Spain to recognise the Palestinian state".
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad group said Wednesday its armed wing brought down an Israeli drone in Gaza, where it is fighting alongside Hamas.
"We shot down a Zionist (Israeli) Skylark drone and took control of it," said Islamic Jihad's Al-Quds Brigades.
Israeli police said Wednesday they had demolished the home of a Palestinian who killed seven Israelis and a Ukrainian near a synagogue in a settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.
Khayri Alqam was shot dead in the 27 January attack and his family later received a demolition order for their apartment, under a long-standing policy to punish the families of Palestinians who kill Israelis.
Gaza's two main telecommunications companies Paltel and Jawwal warned on Wednesday of a "complete telecom blackout in the coming hours" in the Gaza Strip.
"Main data centers and switches in the Gaza Strip are gradually shutting down due to fuel depletion," the companies said in a joint statement.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that Israel's war in Gaza was "against the existence of Palestinians", in a speech marking the 35th anniversary of the Palestinian declaration of independence.
"It is a war against the existence of the Palestinians, against the Palestinian national identity, the identity of the land and the identity of its inhabitants," Abbas said in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which is separated geographically from the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday denounced Israel's operation inside Gaza's largest hospital as a "flagrant violation" of international law, demanding world action to protect patients and civilians inside the facility.
The Israeli military's overnight entry into Gaza City's Al-Shifa hospital was a "flagrant violation of international law", a statement from the Palestinian foreign ministry said, demanding "urgent international intervention to protect the civilians there".
The UN estimates there are at least 2,300 patients, staff and displaced civilians inside the facility.
Jordan accused the UN Security Council Wednesday of enabling the "barbarism" of Israel's raid on Gaza's main hospital through its silence.
"The catastrophe in Al-Shifa hospital shows the barbarism UNSC's silence is allowing," Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi wrote on X, formerly Twitter, commenting on the overnight operation by Israeli troops.
"We condemn the silence on this brutality. It is providing cover for war crimes. It is unacceptable, unjustifiable. The Council must act."
The misery in Shifa hospital shows the barbarism UNSC’s silence is allowing. How can the SC remain silent on forcing babies out of incubators?— Ayman Safadi (@AymanHsafadi) November 15, 2023
We condemn the silence on this brutality. It is providing cover for war crimes. It is unacceptable, unjustifiable. The Council must act
The head of the UN children's agency said Wednesday she had witnessed "devastating" scenes on a visit to war-ravaged Gaza and urged Israel and Hamas to "stop this horror".
"What I saw and heard was devastating. They have endured repeated bombardment, loss and displacement," UNICEF's executive director Catherine Russell said, describing a rare visit to the Palestinian territory by a top UN official.
"Inside the Strip, there is nowhere safe for Gaza's one million children to turn," Russell said in a statement.
"The parties to the conflict are committing grave violations against children," she said.
"These include killing, maiming, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access - all of which UNICEF condemns."
"Many children are missing and believed buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings and homes, the tragic result of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas," she said.
"Meanwhile, newborn babies who require specialised care have died in one of Gaza's hospitals as power and medical supplies run out, and violence continues with indiscriminate effect."
Russell reiterated her call "on all parties to ensure that children are protected and assisted, as per international humanitarian law".
"Only the parties to the conflict can truly stop this horror."
Today I visited the Gaza Strip to meet with children, their families and UNICEF staff.— Catherine Russell (@unicefchief) November 15, 2023
What I saw and heard was devastating. https://t.co/qM8ca95JJD
Russell called for "an immediate humanitarian ceasefire" and for the rivals "to safely release all abducted and detained children".
She also demanded that the two sides "ensure that humanitarian actors have safe, sustained and unimpeded access to reach those in need with the full range of lifesaving services and supplies."
Russell said she had visited the Al-Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis where she met with patients and displaced families seeking shelter and safety.
"A 16-year-old girl told me from her hospital bed that her neighbourhood had been bombed. She survived but doctors say she will never be able to walk again," she said.
Russell said she had also met with UNICEF staff who were "continuing to deliver for children amidst the danger and devastation".
She said the organisation was striving to continue to deliver aid, "but diesel fuel has practically run out, causing some hospitals and health centres to stop functioning".
"Without fuel, desalination plants cannot produce drinking water and humanitarian supplies cannot be distributed."
The United Nations and the Red Cross voiced alarm Wednesday after Israeli forces raided Gaza's largest hospital, demanding that thousands of patients and civilians there be protected.
"I'm appalled by reports of military raids in Al Shifa hospital in Gaza," UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said on X, formerly Twitter.
"The protection of newborns, patients, medical staff and all civilians must override all other concerns," he said. "Hospitals are not battlegrounds."
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus agreed.
"Reports of military incursion into Al-Shifa hospital are deeply concerning," he wrote on X, warning that the UN health agency had "lost touch again with health personnel at the hospital".
"We're extremely worried for their and their patients' safety."
The International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement that it was "extremely concerned about the impact on sick and wounded people, medical staff, and civilians".
"All measures to avoid any consequences on them must be taken," it said, insisting that "patients, medical staff, and civilians must be at all times protected".
The ICRC added that it was "in contact with all concerned authorities and we continue to closely monitor the situation".
The death toll from Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip has reached 11,320, including more than 4,650 children, Gaza's government announced Wednesday.
There are no signs of Israeli hostages inside Al-Shifa hospital, Israel's Channel 13 said Wednesday.
A fuel truck entered Gaza through the Rafah border crossing from Egypt Wednesday, state-aligned Al Qahera News reported, in the first such delivery since the Gaza war began on 7 October.
An Egyptian source said the fuel would be delivered to the United Nations "to facilitate the delivery of aid after trucks on the Palestinian side stopped operating for lack of fuel".
COGAT, the Israeli defence ministry body that handles Palestinian civil affairs, had said earlier that "UN trucks transporting humanitarian aid through the Rafah crossing will be refuelled at the Rafah crossing, per US request."
Witnesses at the Egyptian border said two more trucks were waiting to pass through the crossing.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called on Israel to "exercise maximum restraint", saying the killing "of women, of children, of babies" in the war between Israel and Hamas must stop.
Speaking before Israel stormed Al-Shifa hospital, Trudeau urged the government of Israel to "exercise maximum restraint".
"The human tragedy that is unfolding in Gaza is heart-wrenching, especially the suffering we see in and around the Al-Shifa hospital," Trudeau told an unrelated event in British Columbia province late on Tuesday.
"The world is watching, on TV, on social media, we are hearing the testimonies of doctors, family members, survivors, kids who have lost their parents," he said.
"The world is witnessing this killing of women, of children, of babies. This has to stop."
A doctor in Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital told Reuters on Wednesday that gunfire forced staff to stay away from windows for their safety as Israeli forces began raiding the complex.
"Bombardment. Shooting around the hospital and within the hospital. It's really horrible you can feel that it's very near to the hospital. And then we realised that the tanks are moving around the hospital," doctor Ahmed El Mokhallalati told Reuters in a telephone interview.
"They just parked in front of the hospital emergency department. All kinds of weapons were used around the hospital. They targeted the hospital directly. We try to avoid being near the windows."
Mokhallalati denied Hamas was using the hospital as a base for its operations.
"We know this is a lie," said Mokhallalati.
As Mokhallalati described the dangers ahead and deteriorating conditions in the hospital, shots which did not sound like an exchange of gunfire rang out twice.
"One of the patient's rooms was targeted. There was a whole in the wall. No one was injured but everyone got terrified," he said.
More than 250 people are wounded in one floor of Al-Shifa hospital, the health minister's advisor told Alaraby TV, as Israeli troops stormed part of the hospital this morning.
He added that the ministry's communication with the hospital is almost cut off.