Biden says Gaza hospitals ‘must be protected.’ As Israeli tanks moved closer to the gates of the largest hospital in the beleaguered enclave, U.S. President Joe Biden expressed his wish for “less intrusive” action from Israel and stated that hospitals in the Gaza Strip must be safeguarded.
The most significant medical facility in Gaza City, Al Shifa Hospital, has seen Israeli tanks stationed outside. According to Israel, the hospital is situated over tunnels that house a Hamas militant headquarters, and the gunmen use the patients as shields.
Hamas refutes the Israeli assertion. After the Islamist Palestinian group’s Oct. 7 incursion into southern Israel, Israel declared war on Hamas. According to Israel’s count, that strike claimed the lives of almost 1,200 people, of whom 240 were taken as captives and sent to Gaza.
In return for a five-day ceasefire in the fighting, the armed wing of Hamas declared that it was prepared to release up to seventy women and children detained in Gaza. According to Gaza’s medical officials, over 11,000 verified deaths from Israeli bombardment have occurred, with over 40% of those victims being minors.
Israel’s military assault, which has resulted in the evacuation of Gaza’s northern half, has rendered around two-thirds of the region’s inhabitants homeless. The Mediterranean strip is densely populated.
Speaking from inside Al Shifa Hospital on Monday, Ashraf Al-Qidra, a spokesman for the Gaza health ministry, stated that 32 patients—three of whom were newborns—had passed away in the preceding three days as a result of the hospital’s blockade in northern Gaza and a shortage of electricity.
Early on Tuesday, the Israeli military said that it had “initiated a humanitarian effort to coordinate the transfer of incubators” from Israel to Al Shifa. However, it was evident that the facility had not yet received any of the incubators frequently used to keep premature infants warm.
Neither Hamas nor Al Shifa responded right away. There were still at least 650 patients in Al Shifa Hospital who were in dire need of being transferred to another hospital.
Biden stated that hospitals need to be safeguarded in his initial remarks following the events of the previous weekend, which included the patient fatalities that were reported at Al Shifa.
At the White House on Monday, Biden told reporters, “My hope and expectation is that there will be less intrusive action relative to hospitals and we remain in contact with the Israelis.”
“Also, there is an effort to get this pause to deal with the release of prisoners, and that’s being negotiated, as well, with the Qataris … being engaged,” he said. “So I remain somewhat hopeful, but hospitals must be protected.”
Israel’s military on Monday released images and video of what it claimed were weapons the organization kept in the basement of Rantissi Hospital. This pediatric facility specializes in cancer treatment. Israel claims that Hamas utilizes hospitals for military objectives.
The armed branch of Hamas, the Al-Qassam Brigades, stated in an audio clip that they were prepared to free up to 70 women and children who were being held captive in exchange for a five-day truce on their Telegram channel. Israel is not expected to accept this offer.
Al-Qassam Brigades spokesperson Abu Ubaida stated that Israel had requested the release of 100 prisoners. “We told the (Qatari) mediators that in a five-day truce, we can release 50 of them, and the number could reach 70 due to the difficulty that the captives are held by different factions,” Abu Ubaida added.
Israel, which essentially blocks Gaza, has refused a ceasefire, claiming that Hamas would only use it to regroup. Nevertheless, it has agreed to short humanitarian “pauses” that let foreigners escape, and supplies and food enter the area.
News reporters were informed by White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan that the United States would “like to see considerably longer pauses – days, not hours – in the context of a hostage release.”
A Washington Post opinion writer cited an unidentified senior Israeli source on Tuesday as stating that Israel and Hamas are nearing an agreement to liberate the majority of the abducted Israeli women and children in exchange for Israel releasing Palestinian women and youths detained in its prisons. If all the specifics are sorted out, an agreement may be declared in a few days.
On Monday, there was also fighting at al-Quds, a second large hospital in northern Gaza that is no longer operational. A convoy intended to transport patients and personnel was unable to get through due to the intense shooting around the hospital, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
Israel said that after fighters fired from the hospital entrance, it retaliated by killing “approximately 21 terrorists” at al-Quds. It unveiled a video purportedly showing men approaching the hospital gate, one of them seemingly holding a launcher with rocket-propelled grenades.
Additionally, Mohammed Khamis Dababash, who they identified as the organization’s previous chief of military intelligence, was among the Hamas leaders and officials that Israel’s military and security agencies claimed to have killed in the last day.
An Israeli airstrike on the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza resulted in over thirty fatalities and several injuries, according to Hamas media. According to a spokesman for the Israeli military, the army was investigating the Jabalia report.