U.N. Shelter in Gaza’s Khan Younis Is Struck, Killing at Least 9

Israeli forces pushed deeper into southern Gaza’s largest metropolis on Wednesday, surrounding two main hospitals the place 1000’s of individuals had been looking for security as a strike on a United Nations shelter killed at least 9 folks, in response to U.N. officers and native well being officers.

The Israeli army stated it had “currently ruled out” that its aerial or artillery fireplace had been chargeable for the strike on the shelter in Khan Younis, the place the U.N. was housing about 800 folks. In addition to the 9 useless, 75 different folks had been injured, according to Thomas White, who helps oversee U.N. support operations in Gaza.

U.N. officers didn’t straight blame Israel, however stated the shelter, in a vocational coaching heart, had been hit by two tank rounds. Israel is the one combatant in Gaza with tanks.

Philippe Lazzarini, the pinnacle of the U.N. Palestinian support company, stated that the shelter was “clearly marked” as a U.N. facility and that its coordinates had been shared with the Israeli authorities. “Once again a blatant disregard of basic rules of war,” Mr. Lazzarini wrote on social media.

At a information convention in Washington, Vedant Patel, a State Department spokesman, known as the strike “incredibly concerning” and added: “Civilians must be protected, and the protected nature of U.N. facilities must be respected.” He declined to say whether or not U.S. officers had spoken to the Israelis in regards to the shelter strike.

The Israeli army stated that it was conducting a evaluate of its operations in the realm of the shelter.

The Israeli army, which has described Khan Younis as a bastion of Hamas, the militant group that led the Oct. 7 assault on Israel, says its forces have encircled the town after weeks of heavy bombardment and gunfights. On Wednesday, Israeli troopers had been surrounding two main hospitals the place 1000’s of Gazans had been looking for security.

In an announcement, the Israeli army accused Hamas of exploiting the civilian inhabitants and stated that its operation in Khan Younis would proceed till it had completed “dismantling Hamas’s military framework and Hamas strongholds.”

Thousands of the civilians now in hazard in Khan Younis had fled there to flee airstrikes and shelling in northern Gaza earlier in the struggle, packing into shelters and tents on the streets. No place in the town is protected, some say.

“Our last night in Khan Younis felt like doomsday,” one Gazan, Yafa Abu Aker, stated on Wednesday morning after strolling about 5 miles from a refugee camp in the town to Rafah, close to the Egyptian border. That metropolis, too, is filled with individuals who have been compelled from their properties.

In Khan Younis, Ms. Abu Aker stated, she and others sought refuge in areas that the Israeli army had designated as protected zones, solely to witness violent clashes, army planes flying overhead, bombs falling, shelling from tanks and gunfire.

“If we had stayed,” she stated, “we would have been buried under the rubble.”

On Tuesday, the Israeli army ordered evacuations from elements of the town that embody two hospitals, Nasser, the biggest in southern Gaza, and Al-Amal. They are among the many final hospitals in Gaza nonetheless offering restricted medical care.

Aid organizations and native officers stated each hospitals had been below siege. The Palestine Red Crescent Society, which runs Al-Amal, reported “intense shelling” close by and stated {that a} strike had killed three folks exterior its places of work and in a close-by constructing. Israeli troops had been “surrounding” Red Crescent staff and “enforcing restrictions on movement” across the group’s places of work and the hospital, it stated.

The Gaza Health Ministry stated that Nasser Hospital had for all sensible functions been minimize off by “continuous bombing,” stopping injured folks from getting there and blocking the switch of sufferers to a close-by Jordanian discipline hospital. The discipline hospital, too, was included in an evacuation space, the United Nations’ humanitarian affairs workplace said on Tuesday.

The three hospitals, with a complete of greater than 600 beds, account for a fifth of the remaining practical hospital capability in Gaza, in response to the U.N. It stated the evacuation space held 88,000 residents and an estimated 425,000 displaced folks, packed into about 1.5 sq. miles.

Doctors Without Borders, the help group, said late Tuesday that its employees members at Nasser may hear bombs and heavy gunfire, and that 850 sufferers and 1000’s of individuals sheltering there have been unable to go away as a result of roads from the hospital had been both inaccessible or too harmful. The group stated that it was “deeply concerned” for folks’s security.

The Israeli army has stated that mortar fireplace was launched at its troops from the hospital. The declare couldn’t be independently verified.

The strike on the shelter was solely the newest to hit a U.N. facility. The group says that 237 of its buildings have been hit in the struggle, together with 150 belonging to its support company for Palestinians.

U.N. officers stated the dying toll from the strike on Wednesday was prone to rise.

Hanan Al-Reifi, who had been staying at the shelter, stated that “many people” had been killed and wounded. She stated that emergency companies had not responded to requires assist and that folks at the shelter didn’t have fireplace extinguishers.

The strike was prone to additional stoke accusations that, regardless of stress from the Biden administration and others, the Israeli army has not carried out sufficient to guard civilians in its marketing campaign to crush Hamas.

Israel launched its offensive after Hamas led the Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel, killing about 1,200 folks and seizing about 240 hostages, in response to Israeli officers. Since then, greater than 25,000 folks have been killed in Gaza, native well being officers say, and a lot of the territory’s 2.2 million folks have been compelled from their properties.

Reporting was contributed by Matthew Mpoke Bigg, Victoria Kim, Farnaz Fassihi and Anushka Patil.

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