14 patients evacuated from Gaza hospital as Israeli raid continues

February 20, 2024 11:36 am

[Source: Reuters]

Fourteen patients were evacuated from a Gaza hospital that has been raided by Israeli troops, the Gaza health ministry and the United Nations said on Monday, as Israel denied its military operations had stopped the hospital from functioning.

The sides gave conflicting accounts of the situation at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza’s second-largest, with Israel denying an assertion by the Gaza ministry’s spokesperson that its forces had detained the hospital director.

The ministry said the evacuated patients, including five who required kidney dialysis and three intensive care cases, were moved from the hospital to others in Gaza thanks to efforts by the World Health Organization, a U.N. agency.

Article continues after advertisement

His post contained a video showing a WHO trauma surgeon, Dr Athanasios Gargavanis, wearing a blue U.N. flak jacket and helmet as he walked through dark corridors inside the hospital during the evacuation mission on Sunday.

The video showed medics in similar protective gear carrying patients on stretchers by flashlight.

The U.N. humanitarian office said on Monday the Israeli military operation in the hospital complex was ongoing.

Nasser Hospital is the latest health facility to become a theatre of war in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, now in its fifth month.

Israel says Hamas, the Islamist group that has run Gaza since 2007, uses hospitals for cover. Hamas denies this and says Israel’s allegations serve as a pretext to destroy the healthcare system.

The war was triggered by a Hamas attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 people were killed and 253 taken hostage, according to Israel.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel has responded with an air and ground assault that according to Gaza’s tallies has killed more than 29,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 69,000. The war has displaced most of the enclave’s 2.3 million people and reduced much of it to rubble.

Ashraf Al-Qidra, spokesperson for the Gaza health ministry, said Israeli forces had detained 70 staff and volunteers at the hospital, including its director Dr Nahed Abu Taeema.

The Israeli army denied Abu Taeema had been detained and said it was not aware of 70 other arrests.

The army had previously said it had apprehended hundreds of Hamas militants who were hiding in Nasser Hospital, some posing as medical staff, and had released images of weapons it said were found there.