Israel Strikes in Lebanon After Deadly Rocket Attack: Israel-Hamas War Live Updates

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Hundreds of displaced Palestinians were fleeing a major hospital in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, according to doctors and videos from the scene, after Israeli forces ordered them to leave and threatened military action to stop what it said was Hamas activity at the hospital.

Thousands of Gazans have been sheltering at the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis for weeks, having been forced to flee their homes and other parts of Gaza by Israel’s intense bombardment of the territory and military orders to leave their towns and cities. Hospitals have become places of refuge during the war, even as they have often become a focus of Israel’s military offensive.

Inside Nasser, which is one of the last functioning hospitals in Gaza, there was terror that Israeli forces would bombard or storm the complex, said Mohammed Abu Lehya, a doctor there. Previous Israeli warnings to evacuate hospitals, including Al-Shifa, the largest in Gaza, have often preceded military raids on the facilities.

“The situation is very difficult, difficult, difficult, difficult,” Dr. Abu Lehya said in a WhatsApp message Wednesday morning. “It’s beyond the imagination or description.”

An injured person arriving at Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis in December. The hospital is one of the last functioning medical facilities in the Gaza Strip.Credit…Yousef Masoud for The New York Times

A video shared on social media on Wednesday and verified by The New York Times shows crowds of people carrying belongings and bedding leaving the hospital as explosions are heard in the background. The Israeli military called for those sheltering to evacuate but said it had not called on patients and medical staff to leave the hospital.

Israel accuses Hamas, the armed Palestinian group that ran Gaza, of using hospitals for its military operations. Hamas and hospital administrators have previously denied such claims. Classified Israeli intelligence obtained and reviewed by The Times suggests Hamas operated under Al-Shifa, but falls short of proving Israel’s early claims that there was a command center there.

Doctors at the hospital and the Gazan health ministry said that some people who tried to flee the Nasser medical compound on Tuesday were shot at by Israeli soldiers, who killed some and wounded others.

In response to questions, the Israeli military said it had “opened a secure route to evacuate the civilian population taking shelter in the area of the Nasser Hospital toward the humanitarian zone.” It did not respond to questions about reports that it had shot at Palestinians trying to leave the hospital.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Israeli military accused Hamas of conducting military activity inside the hospital grounds and said it “was used to hold hostages.” The claims could not be independently verified, but they signaled the Israeli military’s intensifying focus on the hospital, which its forces have surrounded for weeks.

“We demand the immediate cessation of all military activity in the area of the hospital and the immediate departure of military operatives from it,” the Israeli military said. It called for civilians sheltering at the hospital to leave for “safer spaces” in southern and central Gaza.

Displaced Palestinians in a makeshift tent camp near Nasser Medical Complex last month.Credit…Haitham Imad/EPA, via Shutterstock

It was unclear where those who left the complex could find safety, as Israel’s military has often bombarded areas of Gaza that it had previously said were safe. Israeli leaders have also vowed to invade Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza, which is sheltering more than a million people.

Inside the hospital, some medical staff were packing their belongings and preparing their families to flee.

“We are all scared,” said Dr. Mohammad Abu Moussa, a radiologist at Nasser. He added that even though he worried about an assault on the hospital, he and his wife had made the difficult decision to stay for now. They and their two surviving children — a third was killed in an airstrike in October — have been staying at the hospital for weeks.

“I have no other choice,” Dr. Abu Moussa said. “I don’t have anywhere to go in Rafah, and I have young children and they can’t walk long distances like that.”

Hanin Abu Tiba, 27, an English teacher sheltering at the hospital, described dire conditions inside, with food running out and aid convoys all but unable to deliver supplies. In text messages overnight, she said that she had seen an Israeli military vehicle outside the hospital gate.

“I’m terrified to leave the hospital and get shot,” she said. But inside the complex, she said, “the electricity is cutting out, and the water, and the canned food is almost gone. We don’t know what to do.”

Throughout the four-month war, the Israeli military has stormed other Gaza hospitals, detaining medical staff, according to the health ministry.

“We are very concerned about the situation developing at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis,” the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders said on social media on Wednesday. It called on Israeli forces “to ensure the safety of all medical staff, patients and displaced people.”

Rawan Sheikh Ahmad and Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting.



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