Accessibility links

Breaking News

Heavy Fighting Erupts Around Northern Gaza Hospital Amid Israel Hamas Conflict

An opening to a tunnel that, according to Israel's military, was used by Palestinian militants under Al Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip
An opening to a tunnel that, according to Israel's military, was used by Palestinian militants under Al Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip

Latest developments:

  • Heavy fighting is reported around the Indonesian Hospital in northern Gaza. The Associated Press cites the Hamas-run health ministry and a medical worker inside the facility as saying 12 people were killed when a shell hit the second floor. AP reports there has been no comment from the Israeli military.
  • 48 journalists have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
  • Israel published video of what it described as a tunnel dug by Palestinian militants under Shifa hospital. Hamas denied the claim.
  • 31 babies have been evacuated from Shifa Hospital and will be taken to Egypt for care.
  • The Israeli army said five more soldiers had been killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip, raising the number of troop deaths there to 64 since the war began.

Heavy fighting erupted Monday around a hospital in northern Gaza as Israel pressed on with its offensive against militant group Hamas.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said at least 12 people were killed when a shell hit the second floor of the Indonesian hospital. Israel’s military has not commented.

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi condemned the attack and blamed Israel.

"Indonesia strongly condemns the Israeli attack on the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza that killed a number of civilians. The attack is a clear violation of international humanitarian law. All countries, especially those with close ties to Israel, must use all their influence and capabilities, to urge Israel to stop its atrocities," she said in a statement.

Meanwhile, 28 premature babies evacuated from Gaza’s Shifa hospital Sunday have arrived in Egypt, Egyptian-state media reported.

The mission Sunday to evacuate the infants was “very dangerous and very difficult,” UNICEF’s Tony Fricker told the BBC. “It was a very small positive in what has been a horrific 48 hours.”

A doctor at the hospital in southern Gaza where the infants were transferred told CNN the babies’ conditions are stable, but difficult. He said that their conditions “could deteriorate at any time.” The Palestinian Red Crescent said Monday it has taken 28 of the infants to the Rafah border crossing where Egyptian medical teams are waiting for them.

UNICEF is working, Fricker said, to identify the babies’ parents and extended family members.

Israel published video Sunday of what it described as a tunnel dug by Hamas militants under Shifa Hospital, a focus of its search-and-destroy missions against Hamas militants.

While acknowledging that it has a network of hundreds of kilometers of secret tunnels, bunkers and access shafts throughout the Palestinian enclave, Hamas has denied that these are in civilian infrastructure like hospitals.

In Sunday’s update on operations at Shifa, the Israeli military said its engineers uncovered a tunnel 10 meters deep and running 55 meters to a blast-proof door.

"This type of door is used by the Hamas terrorist organization to block Israeli forces from entering the command centers and the underground assets belonging to Hamas," said a military statement accompanied by video showing a narrow passage with arched concrete roofing, ending at a grey door.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said 48 journalists and media workers have been confirmed killed in the region since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and the subsequent Israeli offensive began.

The CPJ, whose list covers journalists killed on both sides, said its list of those killed comprised 43 Palestinians, four Israelis and one Lebanese.

"Journalists across the region are making great sacrifices to cover this heart-breaking conflict. Those in Gaza, in particular, have paid, and continue to pay, an unprecedented toll and face exponential threats," Sherif Mansour, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, said in an email to Reuters.

In the West Bank, two Palestinians were killed overnight during Israeli raids on the occupied territory.

The Israeli army said Sunday five more soldiers had been killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip, raising the number of troop deaths there to 64 since the war began.

All five died in northern Gaza, where its forces are engaged in a ground operation against Hamas militants, the military said.

The Middle East has been a tinderbox since Iranian-backed Hamas launched the terrorist attack on Israel last month, killing at least 1,200 people while taking about 240 people hostage, Israel said. Israel's retaliatory strikes and ground offensive have killed more than 12,000 Palestinians, about 5,000 of them children, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

On the diplomatic front, Michael Herzog, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, told ABC’s “This Week” show that Israel is “hopeful we can get a significant number of hostages [held by Hamas] freed in the next few days,” with an accompanying short pause in the fighting, possibly lasting five days.

U.S. news reports say about 50 hostages, particularly women and children, of the estimated 240 held by Hamas, could be returned to Israel, but it is not clear whether and how many Palestinian prisoners held by Israel might be freed.

Herzog refused to call any cessation in fighting a cease-fire, signaling that Israel plans to resume its attack on Hamas targets after the pause ends.

White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer told CNN’s “State of the Union” show that the U.S. believes it is “closer than we have been perhaps at any point since these negotiations [over the hostage release] began weeks ago.”

He said, “There are areas of difference and disagreement that have been narrowed, if not closed out entirely,” while adding that no deal has been reached.

“One of the challenges associated with this is we’re not on the ground in Gaza, the United States,” Finer said. “We are not in direct contact with Hamas. We do that only through intermediaries. And so, we don’t have perfect fidelity about exact numbers of hostages, including numbers who are still alive.”

Dozens of displaced Palestinian civilians were killed or wounded Saturday in Israeli airstrikes, including one on a school in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees reported.

"The scenes were horrifying. Corpses of women and children were on the ground. Others were screaming for help," wounded survivor Ahmed Radwan told The Associated Press by phone of Israel’s attack on the camp’s Fakhoura school. Photos from a local hospital showed more than 20 bodies wrapped in bloodstained sheets.

In a statement Sunday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “I am deeply shocked that two UNRWA schools were struck in less than 24 hours in Gaza.”

“This war is having a staggering and unacceptable number of civilian casualties, including women and children, every day. This must stop. I reiterate my call for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.”

The Israeli military said that its troops were active in the Jabaliya area "with the aim of hitting terrorists" while trying to minimize civilian harm.

VOA’s Eva Mazrieva contributed to this report. Some information for this article came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.