Advertisement

Medical facilities battered amid Israeli assault in Khan Younis, say Palestinian officials in Gaza, as death toll rises

Medical facilities in Khan Younis in southern Gaza have been battered amid an Israeli assault in the area Monday, Palestinian health officials said, as the number of people killed in Israel’s siege on Gaza continues to rise.

Dozens of people have been killed and wounded in the latest offensive in western Khan Younis, according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza. Medical facilities including the Nasser Medical Complex, Al Amal Hospital and the Palestine Red Crescent Society headquarters are located in the area.

“The situation here is completely catastrophic. We didn’t sleep last night. The hospital is entirely besieged,” Ahmad Al Moghrabi, a doctor at the Nasser Medical Complex said in a video shared to his Instagram page Monday.

“There is no way for us to escape the hospital and no way for evacuation. The troops are all around, and the only roads for evacuation are filled with dead bodies,” he said.

The Nasser Medical Complex is receiving more serious injuries than it can accommodate, the health ministry said, adding that intensive care units are at capacity.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff at the Nasser hospital said “there is a sense of panic among staff, patients and displaced people sheltering inside the building,” as they could feel the ground shaking during the strikes, MSF said on social media.

The hospital wards are full and exit routes are blocked, preventing the evacuation of medical staff and patients from the hospital, MSF added.

Health officials also said that Israeli forces Monday stormed the Al Khair Hospital, west of Khan Younis, and detained a number of its medical staff, amid an ongoing “siege” of the area.

The Israeli military said it was targeting Hamas outposts, infrastructure, and command and control centers in Khan Younis and the action demanded “precise operations” due to the densely populated civilian areas.

The military operation, which was launched on Sunday, is being led by Israel’s 98th Paratroopers Division and is expected to last for several days, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said, without providing further details on the timeline.

“Dismantling Hamas’ military framework in western Khan Younis is the heart of the logic behind the operation,” the statement added.

The IDF said it had seen militants at “sensitive sites” such as hospitals and shelters in the tightly packed civilian areas.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said its headquarters and the Al-Amal Hospital, located in the same neighborhood, are “under siege” by Israeli forces, and soldiers are “targeting anyone who tries to move in the area.”

A field ambulance point has been established outside the Al-Amal neighborhood, where the medical facilities are located, to ensure a continuity of operations.

But the organization said the situation remains “extremely dangerous” and around 80 percent of the entrances and exits to Al-Amal are obstructed. Ambulance teams are facing “significant difficulties in reaching the wounded and injured due to the continuous bombardment in the governorate.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said he is “deeply concerned” by reports of the fighting, warning that that violence near Al-Amal hospital and the raid on Al-Khair not only “put patients and people seeking safety within these facilities at risk, but they also prevent newly injured people outside the hospitals from being reached and receiving care.”

Israel’s siege in Gaza has devastated swathes of the territory, diminished food, fuel and water supplies, and crushed the enclave’s medical system. Over 1.9 million Palestinians have been forcibly displaced, many multiple times, according to the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

There are 16 out of 36 hospitals partially functioning across the strip, including nine in southern Gaza and seven in the north, the UN’s humanitarian affairs office reported on Sunday.

In southern Gaza, three hospitals – Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir El-Balah, and Nasser and Gaza European hospitals in Khan Younis – are “at risk of closure due to the issuance of evacuation orders in adjacent areas and the ongoing conduct of hostilities nearby,” OCHA said.

The Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza has been functioning to a “limited degree” since mid-January, added OCHA.

The Health Ministry said Monday that the number of Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks in Gaza since October 7 rose to 25,295, with at least 63,000 injuries recorded. At least 190 people were killed and 340 injured in the last 24 hours, the Ministry statement said.

CNN cannot independently verify casualty figures in Gaza due to limited access to the area.

Hamas’s militant wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, said in a statement Monday that they were fighting in the western Khan Younis area, killing a number of Israeli soldiers with anti-personnel missiles.

Ahmed Naseem, a resident of Al-Amal neighborhood in Khan Younis, told CNN Monday that “intense” shelling of the area started in the early hours of Monday.

“There was heavy shelling in the area since the early hours of Monday. I could feel it intensely from the building I live in,” Nassem said. “We don’t even dare open the windows to see where these attacks are happening,” he said.

He said that he is “terrified of filming the scenes taking place nearby” because he fears he will be shot at, if a drone catches him in the act.

“We can’t even go to the rooftop because we cannot determine if drones will fire at us,” he said. “A few days ago water tanks were damaged, after drones fired right at them. My cousin, who was filling water at the time of the strike, was close to getting hit, but survived,” he added.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Mitchell McCluskey, Niamh Kennedy and Kareem Khadder contributed reporting.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com