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Israel-Gaza: Israel presses ground offensive in southern Gaza Strip, as local media reports schools struck in north

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5 December 2023, ABC

Intense Israeli air strikes have continued to hit the south of the Gaza Strip, killing and wounding dozens of Palestinians, including in areas where Israel had told people to seek shelter, residents and journalists on the ground said.

Israeli troops and tanks have also pressed the ground offensive against Hamas militants in the south of the enclave after having largely gained control of the now-devastated north.

Meanwhile, in the territory’s north, Palestinian media reported at least 50 people were killed in an Israeli air strike that hit two schools sheltering displaced people.

The Gaza health ministry said on Monday at least 15,899 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza since the Hamas attack on October 7.

Infants left to die in bombed hospital

The Gaza health ministry has said around 70 per cent of the Palestinian deaths are women and children.

After heavily blurred video began circulating online purporting to show a number of Palestinian infants left to die in a Gaza hospital, US outlets and Human Rights Watch (HRW) confirmed that the bodies of premature infants were found in various states of decomposition inside the bombed Al-Nasr Medical Centre.

NBC News reported that they obtained and reviewed the unblurred footage, taken by Mohammed Baalousha, a journalist with the Emirati TV channel Al-Mashhad.

The video shows three of the five dead infants in their hospital beds, some in close proximity to medical equipment, rotting and covered with insects.

The ABC has not seen the raw footage provided to NBC.

The US outlet could not independently confirm the status of the infants between the time hospital staff evacuated and the point when the journalist accessed the unit, but said two independent forensic pathologists reviewed the footage and said the level of decomposition was consistent with the time frame.

Human rights groups have since called for an independent investigation into the deaths of five Palestinian babies abandoned at Al-Nasr Hospital after staff were forcibly evacuated.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said in a statement that the hospital’s director, Dr. Mustafa Al-Kahlot, told them he had tried to save the infants but did not receive requested aid.

The humanitarian group said Dr Al-Kahlot claimed to have notified an Israeli army officer about the five infants’ medical needs, and that the army’s response was that it was aware of the situation and would take appropriate action.

Mohammed Abu Mughaisib, deputy medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Gaza, told the Washington Post that workers in the paediatric hospital had to leave babies in incubators after the hospital was hit with Israeli shelling.

Al-Nasr director Bakr Qaoud told The Post that an Israeli official provided assurance that ambulances would be arranged to retrieve the patients.

Before a temporary truce in the seven-week war came into force, several hospitals in the northern Gaza Strip had been targeted by Israeli raids, with some evacuated on the orders of the Israeli army.

Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP that Israeli soldiers had initially blocked access to the intensive care unit at Al-Nasr paediatric facility.

The Israeli army said it was unable to immediately comment on the matter when contacted by AFP.

Palestinian media says at least 50 killed in Israeli air strike in north Gaza

The official Palestinian news agency said at least 50 people were killed on Monday in an Israeli air strike that hit two schools sheltering displaced people in the north of the Gaza Strip.

The reported attack took place as Israeli bombs also rained down on southern areas of the enclave and Israeli troops and tanks pressed a ground campaign against Hamas militants in that sector.

The strike hit the Daraj neighbourhood in Gaza City, the WAFA agency said. It was not immediately possible to verify the report independently, and a spokesperson for the Israeli army said it was looking into the report.

Earlier on Monday, Israel ordered Palestinians to leave parts of Gaza’s main southern city, Khan Younis. But residents said that areas they had been told to go to were also coming under fire.

Israel’s military posted a map on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, on Monday morning with around a quarter of Khan Younis marked off in yellow as territory that must be evacuated at once.

Three arrows pointed south and west, telling people to head towards the Mediterranean coast and towards Rafah, a major town near the Egyptian border.

Desperate Gazans in Khan Younis packed their belongings and headed towards Rafah. Most were on foot, walking past ruined buildings in a solemn and silent procession.

But the head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza (UNWRA), Thomas White, said people in Rafah were themselves being forced to flee.

“People are pleading for advice on where to find safety. We have nothing to tell them,” he said on X.

Israel launched its assault to wipe out Hamas, which rules Gaza, in retaliation for an October 7 cross-border attack by its gunmen. They killed 1,200 people and seized 240 hostages, according to Israeli estimates.

WHO to hold emergency session

The World Health Organization will hold an extraordinary session of its Executive Board on December 10 to discuss health conditions in Gaza and the West Bank, a document from the UN global health agency showed and the Palestinian ambassador said.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus convened the session after receiving a request from 14 members of the WHO’s board, the WHO document said. A WHO spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Palestinian ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Ibrahim Khraishi, said that the meeting would focus mostly on Gaza but also cover attacks on the health sector in the West Bank.

“We want to empower the WHO and call for the Israeli side not to target the medical sector. We want to allow for fresh medical supplies,” he told Reuters.

He said his diplomatic mission was drafting a motion to be reviewed by the 34-member board.

Only a fraction of Gaza’s hospitals are currently operational due to bombings and lack of fuel and those that are still functioning are increasingly overwhelmed by a new wave of wounded arriving.

Israel has accused Hamas of using ordinary Gazans as human shields by placing command centres and weapons inside hospitals and other civilian buildings.

A senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that Israel would facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza’s civilians as fighting there resumed.

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Article source: ABC | 5.12.23

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

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