Israeli military bombs hospitals, ambulance convoys and schools

Aftermath of an Israeli bombing of Al Shifa hospital in Gaza on November 3, 2023.

The Israeli military, with the backing of the Biden administration, has targeted hospitals and medical staff for missile strikes in Gaza over the past 24 hours. On Friday, Israel carried out an airstrike on an ambulance at the gate of Al Shifa hospital, killing 15 people and injuring 60 others, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The strike near the hospital, located in the neighborhood of North Rimal in Gaza City, was confirmed by the Israeli government, which claimed the ambulance was being “used by a Hamas terrorist cell.” The Israeli allegation was “rejected by Health Ministry spokesmen.”

The Palestine Red Crescent Society issued a statement condemning the bombing of the ambulance convoy. The statement said, “Upon the arrival of Palestine Red Crescent society’s ambulance (Mercedes 3-1242-55) at the hospital gate to unload the injured (Najwa Toutah, 35 years old, shrapnel in the chest and leg, in an ICU condition), who was destined for Rafah Crossing to receive the required medical treatment in Egyptian hospitals, the vehicle was struck by a missile fired by the Israeli forces, only at a distance of about two meters from the hospital gate.”

The New York Times reported that “an explosion” occurred near the hospital at 4:30 p.m. local time on Friday. The Israeli strike was carried out after a spokesman from the Palestinian Health Ministry announced at a news conference that a convoy carrying “a large number of injured people” would be heading south on the coastal road of Al Rasheed near the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

A graphic video at the scene at the gate of the Al Shifa hospital was posted on Twitter/X showing the death and destruction from the airstrike.

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The post by Al Jazeera journalist Muhammad Shehada included the following description: “Israeli just bombed the main gate of al-Shifa medical compound where over 30,000 refugees are sheltering. Dozens killed & wounded; literal pools of blood everywhere! Multiple ambulances were damaged as they attempted to transport the critically wounded to Rafah.”

Speaking after the attack, Ashraf al-Qudra told the press that the convoy had left the hospital and made its way to a nearby roundabout when it was hit by an airstrike. The Times reported that al-Qudra said, “The convoy turned back, and when it got back to the entrance of Al Shifa, it was hit again.”

The Health Ministry and international aid groups say Al Shifa hospital is running out of fuel and has curtailed services amid the cutoff of electricity and fuel by Israel. Doctors have reported that large numbers of people have been wounded in airstrikes and are being treated without enough medicine and supplies.

In addition to the strike on the Al Shifa medical facility, Al Jazeera reported that Israel also struck the Indonesian Hospital in Bait Lahia located in the North Gaza Governorate. The report said people in the area were combing through the rubble using their cell phones as torches. The report also said, “Large plumes of smoke could be seen in the evening sky as small fires had broken out amid the mounds of debris.”

Al Jazeera also reported an air raid in the vicinity of the al-Quds hospital in the Tel al-Hawa area of Gaza City. A post on Twitter/X said that Israeli jets targeted the hospital and that there were “several casualties.” The al-Quds facility is providing shelter and basic needs for 14,000 people, mainly women and children.

The Palestine Chronicle reported on Friday that Israel struck the Osama Ben Zaid school on Friday afternoon, killing 20 people and injuring dozens of others. The school was being used to house displaced people whose homes have been destroyed by the war.

Numerous media outlets are reporting that Israeli forces have surrounded Gaza City on three sides and are operating within the city, fighting in close combat. In a televised statement, Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi, the Israel Defence Forces chief of staff, said Israeli forces “are in the heart of northern Gaza, operating in Gaza City, surrounding it.”

The siege of Gaza City is the latest in the ethnic cleansing operation of the Zionist state against Palestinians which has so far killed more than 9,200 people, mostly women and children, and injured at least 32,000 others. The death toll in Gaza is horrific and is without precedent in the history of Israeli violence against Palestinians, recalling the crimes of the Nazis in World War II.

Well aware that the Palestinian death toll will climb dramatically in the coming days, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was dispatched to Israel on Friday for the purpose of backing the genocide and covering up the scale of the crimes being committed.

The global charity Oxfam issued a statement on Friday saying it was “gravely concerned for the lives of around 500,000 Palestinians, alongside any of the more than 200 Israeli and other hostages, currently trapped in a ‘siege within a siege’ in northern Gaza.”

The Oxfam statement also said, “Israel’s decision to deprive civilians in Gaza of items essential to their survival such as food, water, fuel, medicines, and other aid amounts to collective punishment and a violation of international humanitarian law.”

On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) also released a statement saying that women, children and newborn infants are “bearing the burden of the escalation of hostilities in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

The WHO statement went on to say, “As of 3 November, according to Ministry of Health data, 2,326 women and 3,760 children have been killed in the Gaza Strip, representing 67% of all casualties, while thousands more have been injured. This means that 420 children are killed or injured every day, some of them only a few months old.”

The WHO said that there are an estimated 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza with more than 180 giving birth every day. The statement goes on, “These women are unable to access the emergency obstetric services they need to give birth safely and care for their newborns. With 14 hospitals and 45 primary health care centers closed, some women are having to give birth in shelters, in their homes, in the streets amid rubble, or in overwhelmed healthcare facilities, where sanitation is worsening, and the risk of infection and medical complications is on the rise.”

The WHO statement reports that over half of the population of Gaza is being sheltered at UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) facilities “in dire conditions, with inadequate water and food supplies, which is causing hunger and malnutrition, dehydration and the spread of waterborne diseases.”