- LATEST DEVELOPMENTS:
- Saudi Arabia to host Arab-Islamic summit on Saturday
- Growing global calls for Israeli restraint in Gaza war
- Some health workers flee Al Shifa hospital: WHO chief
GAZA, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Israel faces growing international pressure, including from its main ally the United States, to do more to protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza as the death toll rises and that fighting intensified near hospitals.
The number of Palestinians killed in bombings of the coastal enclave over the past five weeks has surpassed 11,000, according to Gaza health officials, as Israeli forces wage war against Hamas militants who carried out the deadly carnage of October 7 in southern Israel.
In his strongest comments yet on the plight of civilians caught in the crossfire, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Friday during a visit to India: “Far too many Palestinians have been killed; far too many have suffered from past events.” weeks.”
But Blinken reaffirmed U.S. support for Israel’s campaign to ensure Gaza can no longer be used “as a platform to launch terrorism.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, in a BBC interview published Friday evening, said Israel must stop bombing Gaza and killing civilians. France, he declared, “clearly condemns” Hamas’ “terrorist” actions, but does so while recognizing Israel’s right to protect itself.
“We urge them to stop these bombings,” Macron said.
In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said world leaders should condemn Hamas, not Israel. “These crimes that Hamas is committing today in Gaza will be committed tomorrow in Paris, in New York and all over the world,” Netanyahu said.
Israel said Hamas militants, who are holding up to 240 hostages of different nationalities captured in last month’s attack, would use a truce to regroup in the event of a ceasefire.
Saudi Arabia was to host an extraordinary Islam-Arab summit on Saturday. The Saudi Foreign Ministry said that “countries feel the need to unify their efforts and adopt a unified collective position.”
Before leaving Tehran to attend the Riyadh summit, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said: “Gaza is not an arena for words. It should be an arena for action.”
“Today, the unity of Islamic countries is very important,” he added.
Iran supports both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian militant group in Gaza, as well as Hezbollah, a militant group based in Lebanon.
Overcrowded hospitals hit by explosions and gunfire
Fighting intensified overnight Saturday near Gaza City’s overcrowded hospitals, which Palestinian officials said were hit by explosions and gunfire.
“Israel is now launching a war against hospitals in Gaza City,” said Mohammad Abu Selmeyah, director of Al Shifa Hospital.
He later said that at least 25 people were killed in Israeli strikes on the Al-Buraq school in Gaza City, where people whose homes were destroyed were sheltering.
Gaza officials said missiles landed in a courtyard at Al Shifa, the enclave’s largest hospital, in the early hours of Friday, damaged the Indonesian hospital and reportedly set the hospital on fire pediatric oncology Nasser Rantissi.
The Israeli military later said a misfired projectile launched by Palestinian militants in Gaza had hit Shifa.
The hospitals, filled with displaced people as well as patients and medical staff, are in northern Gaza, where Israel says Hamas militants are concentrated.
Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy said Hamas headquarters was in the basement of Shifa Hospital, meaning the facility could lose its protected status and become a legitimate target.
Israel says Hamas hides weapons in tunnels under hospitals. Hamas denies this.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said health workers the group was in contact with in Shifa had been forced to leave the hospital in search of safety.
“Many of the thousands of people housed in hospital are forced to evacuate due to security risks, while many remain there,” Tedros wrote on social media.
‘NOBODY IS SAFE’
Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said Israel had bombed the Shifa hospital buildings five times.
“One Palestinian was killed and several were injured in the early morning attack,” he said by telephone. Videos verified by Reuters showed scenes of panic and people covered in blood.
Israeli tanks took up positions around Nasser Rantissi Hospital as well as Al-Quds Hospital, medical staff said earlier.
The Palestinian Red Cross said Israeli forces were firing on Al-Quds hospital and there were violent clashes, leaving one person killed and 28 injured, most of them children.
Israeli army spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht told a press briefing that the army “does not shoot at hospitals. If we see Hamas terrorists shooting from hospitals, we will do what we have to do. We are aware of the sensitivity (of hospitals). but again, if we see Hamas terrorists, we will kill them. »
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said Israel had created a task force to establish hospitals in southern Gaza. On October 12, Israel ordered some 1.1 million people in Gaza to move south ahead of its ground invasion.
Palestinian officials said Friday that 11,078 Gazans have been killed in air and artillery strikes since October 7.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said around 1,200 people were killed, mostly civilians, in the October 7 Hamas attack, a revision of the previous toll, although adding that the figure could still change a once all the bodies have been identified.
Israel also said 39 soldiers had been killed in combat since October 7.
Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; additional reporting from other Reuters bureaus; Written by Matt Spetalnick; edited by Grant McCool and Simon Cameron-Moore
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