Israeli forces cut off access to Kamal Adwan hospital in northern Gaza

Israeli forces converged on the entrance to a major hospital in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday, trapping more than a dozen medical staff inside and virtually shutting down one of the last functioning hospitals. , according to a doctor and Palestinian media.

For days, the Israeli army has shelled the area around the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahia, near the northern tip of the territory. Their advance with tanks toward the northern entrances cut off access to the hospital, according to Dr. Eid Sabbah, the hospital’s chief nurse.

“It is now considered practically, because it is under siege, not operational,” said Dr. Sabbah, who was at the hospital on Thursday. Many patients were receiving kidney dialysis Thursday, he said, but they also left before the military cut off access. “The military has arrived at the entrances,” he said.

The blockade of Kamal Adwan came two days after the Israeli army ordered patients and staff at Al Awda Hospital near Jabaliya, another major medical center in northern Gaza, to evacuate on Wednesday and then storm the complex. . About 30 people remained there, including medical personnel and patients in critical condition who could not be transferred. Israeli forces destroyed doors and damaged equipment, Gaza officials said.

The Israeli military has repeatedly besieged and attacked Gaza hospitals, alleging that Hamas, the armed group that led the October 7 attack on Israel, uses them as shields, and its fighters operate inside the hospitals and from tunnels beneath them. . Hamas and the hospital administrators have denied the claims.

The Israeli military has taken journalists on a tour of a hospital it raided and provided them with documents it says prove its claims about Hamas and the hospitals. But there has been no independent verification of the claims.

Israeli bombing and ground troop raids have left many of Gaza’s hospitals out of operation, with only a few still partially functioning. Nearly 500 medical workers have been killed in seven and a half months of fighting, and Israeli forces have detained dozens more, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

Israeli forces besieged and then raided Kamal Adwan Hospital in December and detained its director. Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, the largest in the enclave, has been attacked three times during the war.

When asked about its forces at the hospital on Friday, the Israeli military said it “does not comment on the deployment of its forces.”

Dr Sabbah said there were still 15 to 20 doctors and nurses inside Kamal Adwan, but no patients.

“They know there are medical personnel inside,” he said of the Israeli army. “We have not been informed if there is going to be a raid, but at any time this could happen.”

Earlier this week, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, said on social media that Kamal Adwan had reportedly been hit four times, damaging the intensive care unit, reception , administration and roof.

“Over the past few weeks, intense hostilities were reported to have occurred in the vicinity of the hospital, resulting in an increased influx of injured patients into the already overloaded facility,” Tedros wrote.

The Israeli military has returned to areas of northern and central Gaza that it had previously captured, saying fighters from Hamas and other groups had returned. Fresh Israeli attacks there have killed and wounded dozens, according to health officials.

The fighting in the north means that many Palestinians who had previously fled that area but later returned to their homes have been forced to flee again, along with people who had remained in the area throughout the war, often in shelters.

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