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Satellite pictures from Gaza show conflict about to drastically escalate

The images showing gathering Israeli forces illustrate a worrying development in the war-torn city.

Israeli tanks have encircled Gaza's largest hospital, where hundreds of wounded Palestinians are being treated and thousands more are taking shelter, with reports suggesting the military has already stormed parts of the building.

Satellite images taken today showed the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) lining the perimeter of the Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical facility and emergency hospital in the Gaza Strip. Currently, there are about 650 people being treated at Al-Shifa, in addition to 200 to 500 health workers, and about 1,500 displaced Palestinians seeking shelter, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Israel claims Hamas 'hiding' beneath hospital

The IDF claims the hospital is harbouring Hamas's military bosses in a secret wing beneath the complex — though both Hamas and Al-Shifa staff deny those allegations.

Satellite images show Israeli tanks gathered outside the hospital. Source: Planet Labs
Satellite images show Israeli tanks gathered outside the hospital. Source: Planet Labs

“Based on intelligence information and an operational necessity, IDF forces are carrying out a precise and targeted operation against Hamas in a specified area in the Shifa Hospital,” the IDF military said in a statement.

The director of the Al-Shifa Hospital told Palestinian media his staff and patients are "attempting to shelter in hallways" with "the sound of heavy gunfire coming from the streets outside".

Palestinian health minister accuses Israel of 'crimes against humanity'

Palestine's health minister Mai Al-Kaila has accused Israeli forces of committing “crimes against humanity” at the hospital. According to reports from those sheltering inside, officials have now warned patients and staff to "take cover and stay away from the windows".

Destroyed buildings are seen on fire in war-torn Gaza. Source: Planet Labs.
Destroyed buildings are seen on fire in war-torn Gaza. Source: Planet Labs.

It's understood medical procedures are now taking place without anaesthetic, including on children, as supplies run low, multiple outlets report.

“There are bodies littered in the hospital complex and there is no longer electricity at the morgues,” Al-Shifa Hospital Director Mohammad Abu Salmiya said.

“We were forced to bury them in a mass grave,” he continued, adding that 179 bodies had been interred so far, including seven newborns who died when their incubators lost power.

Over 11,000 Palestinians killed since October 7

International law gives hospitals special protections during war. But hospitals can lose those protections if combatants use them to hide fighters or store weapons, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The war began with Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 incursion into southern Israel that killed some 1,200 people.

That assault sparked a punishing campaign of airstrikes and the Israeli military offensive into the Gaza Strip that has killed over 11,000 people — two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run enclave.

with AP

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