Israel pledges to continue raid on Gaza's largest hospital as UN agencies raise concerns- Day 41 as it happened

Ahram Online , Thursday 16 Nov 2023

Israel persists in its raid on Gaza's largest hospital, Al-Shifa, despite UN agencies raising alarm. The UN Security Council passed a resolution urging humanitarian pauses and protection of civilians, especially children. Israel has rejected calls for a broader ceasefire, opting for temporary localized pauses instead. Concerns for the safety of those at Al-Shifa hospital remain high amid the ongoing conflict.

Al-Shifa hospital
Israeli soldiers walk in the area of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. AP


23:30 The United States and European Union are advocating for plans to deploy international peacekeepers in the Gaza Strip following the end of Israel's war on Gaza, according to insiders.

The move would increase pressure on Israel to halt its air and ground invasion of the Palestinian territory that has so far killed more than 11,500 people, many of them women and children, according to Palestinian health ministry figures.

While acknowledging that significant uncertainties persist, US and European officials are actively considering this proposal, people familiar with the matter said, adding that even discussing the idea may push Israel to end its war on the strip.

According to Bloomberg, the discussions, taking place through the United Nations Security Council, are still in an early phase. They come amid mounting pressure from the international community for a cease-fire in Gaza.

One option under consideration involves granting an expanded role for the UN Truce Supervision Organization, first established in 1949 to help implement armistice agreements between Palestinian Arabs and the newly created State of Israel, reported Bloomberg. 

Furthermore, similar UN structures could be used as a template, those familiar with the matter added, pointing to UN-backed troop deployment in other areas worldwide.

The plans come as Israeli forces dropped leaflets on Thursday, warning Palestinians to flee parts of southern Gaza, signalling a possible expansion of operations to areas where hundreds of thousands of people who heeded earlier evacuation orders are crowded into UN-run shelters and family homes.

23:00 The US Embassy in Cairo announced on Thursday the arrival of the first US flight carrying 200 tons of food aid to Gaza in Egypt's Al-Arish airport in preparation for sending them into the Strip through the Rafah border crossing.  

“The United States is working closely with the Egyptian Red Crescent, the United Nations, and international partner organisations to accelerate and expand aid efforts, reinforcing protection for Palestinian civilians,” said Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya who received the first batch of US food aid at the airport.  

22:00 Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry stressed in a call with UNRWA chief on Thursday the need to stop Israel’s attacks against civilians and civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip and its violations of international law and all human values.

Shoukry's remarks came during a phone conversation with Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), about the situation in Gaza.

According to the official spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Abu Zeid, Shoukry inquired about Lazzarini's assessment of the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and UNRWA's efforts to establish new headquarters to resume working.

For his part, the UNRWA chief expressed his deep concern over the worsening humanitarian situation in the strip and the increasing challenges facing relief agencies and medical personnel in Gaza.

Furthermore, Shoukry emphasised Egypt’s commitment to providing all necessary support to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians.

He also affirmed that Egypt will continue to provide the necessary treatment services for the injured Palestinians, highlighting Egypt's current preparation to receive newborns, as directed by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

20:45 The Israeli occupation army said Thursday it had found the body of a woman hostage seized by Hamas fighters near the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip.

The body of Yehudit Weiss, who was taken captive from her home in a kibbutz near the Gaza border on October 7, "was extracted by IDF troops from a structure adjacent to Shifa hospital" in Gaza City, an army statement said.

20:00 The general manager of Palestine Telecommunications Company, Paltel, said he has urged international bodies to persuade Israel to allow fuel to enter Gaza in order to restore phone and internet to the besieged enclave.

“We asked all international bodies to intervene with Israel in order to allow the entry of fuel,” Abdulmajeed Melhem told The Associated Press.

Earlier Thursday, Paltel announced that all communication services — landlines, mobile phones and internet connections — were down due to a lack of fuel.

“Since the outbreak of the war, there has been no electricity, therefore we have relied on alternative sources to operate the generators,” Melhem said. “If they (Israel) allow the entry of fuel, this problem will be solved.”

19:10 Hamas's armed wing claimed responsibility Thursday for a gun attack near Jerusalem that killed a soldier, saying it was in response to the ongoing bloodshed in Gaza where it is locked in a major conflict with Israel.

In a statement on Telegram, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said the attack, in which three of its militants opened fire, killing the soldier and wounding five other members of the Israeli security forces, was "in revenge for the blood of the martyrs in Gaza".

18:35 The Red Crescent said Israeli occupation tanks were laying siege to Gaza's Al-Ahli hospital in a "violent attack" on Thursday, as Israel accuses Hamas of using health facilities as bases.

"Teams are unable to move and reach those who are injured," the organisation said on X, formerly Twitter.

18:30 The head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees said he feared for civil order in the Gaza Strip after it was hit with a new communications blackout on Thursday.

"Gaza is again in a total communication blackout, and... it is because there is no fuel," UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini told a press conference in Geneva.

The Palestinian telecom company Paltel confirmed the blackout, saying on X, formerly Twitter: "We regret to announce that all telecom services in Gaza Strip have gone out of service as all energy sources sustaining the network have been depleted, and fuel was not allowed in."

Lazzarini said he was worried that a communications blackout could heighten panic in the Gaza Strip and erode the last traces of public order.

The day after a previous communication blackout, "there were groups of hundreds of people who basically went into our warehouse and took whatever was available," he said.

"These are signs of a situation when you have a blackout and you cannot communicate with anyone anymore... that triggers and fuels, even more, the anxiety and the panic.

"This can provoke or accelerate the last remaining civil order that we have in the Gaza Strip. And if this completely breaks down, we will have difficulties operating in an environment where you do not have a minimum of order."

He said UNRWA staff would be hindered further in providing services in the Gaza Strip if the blackout remains, as they cannot communicate with one another.

18:20 Palestinians in parts of southern Gaza said they received evacuation notices Thursday, a signal that Israel's ground invasion is about to expand in the south.

That comes a day after Israeli occupation forces began searching a north Gaza hospital where they claimed Hamas militants operated — a claim that Hamas and hospital staff deny.

The Israeli military has yet to show any evidence of an alleged Hamas command centre underneath or in the hospital. The Associated Press could not independently verify Israeli claims that it found weapons inside the hospital.

With most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people crowded into the territory’s south, residents say bread is scarce and supermarket shelves are bare. Families cook on wood fires for lack of fuel. Central electricity and running water have been out for weeks.

The fuel shortage caused landline connections, the mobile network, and internet connections to shut down, telecoms provider Paltel said Thursday.

18:00 Telecommunications Company Paltel reported on Thursday that all communication services in the Gaza Strip have been disrupted due to a shortage of fuel and electricity.

"We deeply regret to inform the public of a total halt in communication services (fixed, cellular, and Internet) in the Gaza Strip. This is a result of the prevention of fuel entry and the depletion of all backup energy sources required to operate the essential network components," stated the telecommunications company.

This marks the fourth major communication outage in Gaza since the initiation of Israel's ground invasion

17:00 Norway's parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution calling on the government to be ready to recognise an "independent" Palestinian state, in a new sign of Europe's anxiety over the Gaza war.

The proposition was made by Norway's ruling coalition to counter a resolution by smaller parties calling for an immediate recognition of a Palestinian state.

Passed with an overwhelming majority in parliament, it said the assembly "asks the government to be ready to recognise Palestine as an independent state when recognition could have a positive impact on the peace process, without making a final peace accord a condition."

The wording means that no recognition is likely in the immediate future but is a sign of the concern over the Gaza war in national assemblies across Europe.

Iceland, Sweden, Poland, Czech Republic and Romania are among countries to have already given legal recognition to a Palestinian state.

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, voted back into power on Thursday, told parliament that he would "work" towards recognition by his country and by Europe.

15:00 France condemned violence by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, calling it a "policy of terror" that is aimed at displacing Palestinians. It urged Israeli authorities to protect Palestinians from the violence.

Speaking to reporters, foreign ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre said that it was not up to Israel to decide the future governance of Gaza, which she said should be part of a future Palestinian state.

13:45 The Palestinian Minister of Health, Mai Al-Kaila, told Sky News that the Israeli forces stormed Al-Shifa Hospital again and the Israeli army is requesting an immediate evacuation of the Hospital.
The Israeli army announced that its forces continued to storm into the hospital.
It claimed that technological means and intelligence materials have been found in the raid so far, including computers with information and documentation related to the captives. 
Earlier, the Al-Jihad Movement said that its members are engaged in violent clashes with the Israeli troops in the vicinity of the medical complex.

13:30 Egypt has welcomed the United Nations Security Council's resolution calling for extended humanitarian pauses in the war-torn Gaza Strip, calling for its implementation.

A statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs hailed the UNSC’s resolution adopted on Wednesday as a “crucial initial” step towards achieving a comprehensive ceasefire.

Egypt urged the immediate establishment of extended ceasefires and humanitarian corridors to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza per the UNSC’s resolution.

It also called for ending the Israeli policy of depriving the Gazans of essential services.

The statement stressed the need to respect the principles of international law and international humanitarian law and protect civilians, particularly women, children, and medical and humanitarian personnel.

13:00 South Africa has filed a referral to the International Criminal Court for an investigation into war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said during a state visit to Qatar.

The move comes as South African lawmakers were expected to debate a motion on Thursday calling for the closure of the Israeli Embassy in South Africa and the cutting of all diplomatic ties with the country until it agrees to a cease-fire.
“As South Africa we have accordingly, together with many other countries across the world, referred this whole Israeli government action to the International Criminal Court," Ramaphosa said.



12:30 The Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Ibrahim Khraishi, said that countries must "wake up" to the massive violations that Israel is committing in Gaza, insisting it was a "genocide".

"You should wake up in this room. This is a massacre, this is genocide, and we're seeing it on TV. It cannot continue," Khraishi told a gathering of UN member states in Geneva.

12:15 The UN human rights chief decried serious allegations of international law violations in the war on Gaza and suggested an international investigation was needed.
Volker Turk said, "extremely serious allegations of multiple and profound breaches of international humanitarian law, whoever commits them, demand rigorous investigation and full accountability".
Turk was speaking after a visit last week to the Middle East, where he warned that both sides were committing war crimes in the deadly conflict.

12:13 Eleven Palestinians were killed in an Israeli bombing of the Nuseirat camp in central Gaza, according to Al Arabiya.

11:15 UN rights chief Volker Turk said Thursday he was ringing the loudest possible alarm bell over the "potentially explosive" situation in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

"I am deeply concerned about the intensification of violence and severe discrimination against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem," Turk told a briefing of UN member states.

"In my view, this creates a potentially explosive situation, and I want to be clear: we are well beyond the level of early warning. I am ringing the loudest possible alarm bell about the occupied West Bank," he said.



11:00 The Egyptian Red Crescent Society (ERCS) said that it is close to running out of humanitarian aid stored at a warehouse in Al-Arish for the embattled Gaza Strip.

The ERCS is receiving a limited amount of aid, Rami Al-Nazer the Executive Director of the Egyptian Red Crescent told reporters on Thursday.

He added that only 1,090 trucks carrying about 18,800 tons of aid have entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing over the past weeks, noting that such an amount falls short of the daily needs of the strip’s 2.3 million people.

10:45 The Israeli fighter jets launched a preemptive strike on targets in south Lebanon. 
Right after the attack, rocket warning sirens sounded in the settlement of Satula, Western Galilee.
Since the war on Gaza erupted, Lebanon's southern border has seen intensifying tit-for-tat exchanges, mainly between Israel and Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, stoking fears of a broader conflagration.

11:00 Hundreds of policemen raided properties across Germany over suspected links to the Lebanese Hezbollah group, authorities said.
The raids targeting 54 sites came after Germany banned Hamas activities and related organisations, in the wake of the October 7 Hamas operation.
"At a time when numerous Jews feel particularly threatened" Germany will "not tolerate neither Islamist propaganda nor anti-Semitist incitement hostile to Israel," said Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.

10:45 Eight Israelis were wounded in a shooting attack near occupied Jerusalem before the attackers were "neutralised", Israeli police said.
According to media reports, three Palestinians opened fire on a checkpoint in the tunnels road, west of Bethlehem, injuring 8 security members. Police said all three attackers were killed by Israeli forces at the scene.
The tunnel road that links Jerusalem with settlements in the southern West Bank is closed.

10:00 The Israeli army announced that two soldiers were killed in the fighting on Wednesday in the northern Gaza Strip, bringing the death toll among Israeli soldiers in the ground offensive to 50.

9:30 Israel renewed its raid at Gaza's largest hospital Thursday, targeting what it claimed was a Hamas command centre nestled among patients, medics and the displaced.

"Tonight we conducted a targeted operation into Shifa hospital," said Major General Yaron Finkelman, the head of Israeli military operations in Gaza. "We continue to move forward."

The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said Thursday that Israeli bulldozers had "destroyed parts of the southern entrance" of the hospital.

Both Israel and its top ally the United States claim that Hamas has a command centre below the Al-Shifa complex, which has become a focal point in the war.

9:00 The Israeli occupation army said that its fighter jets struck the home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in the Gaza Strip overnight.

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