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War on Gaza: Israeli soldiers storm Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis as Lebanon reels from Israeli strike

The hospital has been besieged for several days and Israel has demanded that patients evacuate while planning for a wider offensive on Rafah
Smoke rises following an Israeli strike on Khan Younis on 14 February, 2024 (Reuters/Bassam Masoud).
Smoke rises following an Israeli strike on Khan Younis on 14 February 2024 (Reuters/Bassam Masoud)
By Nader Durgham in Beirut and Areeb Ullah in London

Israeli forces began raiding Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, southern Gaza's main medical facility, after shelling it and reportedly killing at least one patient.

The attack comes a day after the Israeli army said it tried to evacuate civilians from the hospital, but medics said patients were unable to safely flee and many displaced Palestinians remained there.

Footage from overnight shows patients being taken out of their rooms in hospital gurneys, some screaming in pain through the sound of distant gunshots.

Israel has laid siege to the hospital for a few days, claiming it was housing Hamas fighters. Similar claims were made about previously attacked hospitals, without any evidence of a significant military presence provided.

Medical staff at the hospital previously told Middle East Eye that at least three Palestinians were killed at the hospital's northern gate, as Israel forced them to leave the hospital at gunpoint.

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Dr Khaled Alserr, a surgeon at the hospital, told Middle East Eye that Israeli tanks have entered the hospital, while the remaining people in the hospital, including 14 medical staff tending to 120 patients, were ordered to gather in one building.

"The Israeli army entered Nasser Hospital with soldiers and tanks," he said.

'The corridors inside are full of patients... they have nowhere else to go'

- Khaled Alserr, Nasser Hospital surgeon

"We saw them digging outside the hospital with bulldozers for the last few days. They have displaced the medical staff and forced us to put all the patients in one building.

"The corridors inside this building are full of patients, crowded together, as they have nowhere else to go."

The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said the Israeli army turned the hospital into "a military barracks" after demolishing the complex's southern walls.

The ministry also said that soldiers targeted tents of displaced Palestinians and bulldozed mass graves inside the hospital complex.

Khan Younis has been the main battleground in the conflict for the past few weeks, as ceasefire talks in Cairo seem to have stalled.

Over 28,600 Palestinians have been killed so far in Israel's war on Gaza.

Lebanon mourns 11 civilians killed by Israeli strikes

Israel has also struck several areas of southern Lebanon, stretching to regions deep inside Lebanese territory, killing 11 civilians, including at least three children.

One strike in Sawaneh killed a woman and two children, while a second one in Nabatieh killed eight people, seven of whom were from the same family, including a child.

Israel said the building in Nabatieh was used by Hezbollah and that it killed a commander in the organisation, Ali Mohammed Debes, and his deputy in the attack. Hezbollah confirmed the death of Debs along with two other members.

War on Gaza: Palestinians in Rafah run out of shelters as Israel threatens assault
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The strikes come after an unprecedented attack from Lebanon targeting an Israeli military base in Safed, killing one soldier. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack to date.

Schools, stores and public offices in Nabatieh shut down on Thursday to mourn those killed.

"The atmosphere in Nabatieh is sad, and there is a general strike," said Hussein Berjawi, a local chief and cousin of one of the victims.

"The pain is not [just] in my heart, but in the heart of every person in the south."

Wednesday marked the most violent day in southern Lebanon since Hezbollah and Israel started exchanging strikes on the Lebanese-Israeli border after the outbreak of the Gaza war.

In an interview with Reuters, Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah said that Israel "will pay the price for these crimes".

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said in a meeting that "the air force planes flying currently in the skies of Lebanon have heavier bombs for more distant targets".

Gallant claims Israel stepped up its actions against Hezbollah by one level out of 10, and that while it prefers finding an agreement, it is prepared for military escalations.

Israel vows Rafah assault amid inconclusive talks 

Talks involving the US, Egypt, Qatar and Israel over Gaza seem to have stalled in Cairo, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called demands by Hamas "delusional".

The Palestinian armed group, on the other hand, accused Israel of putting forward a proposal that differed from what was agreed upon during earlier talks.

The difficulties come as Netanyahu vowed to move forward with the planned offensive on Rafah, the last refuge for around 1.4 million displaced Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Brazil's president Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva visited Cairo on Thursday and strongly criticised Israel for its actions in Gaza.

"Israel's behaviour has no explanation: with the pretext of fighting Hamas, it is killing women and children," he said after a meeting in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

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