Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel’s attempts to minimise civilian casualties were “not successful”, and he further accused Hamas of preventing civilians from moving to safer locations.
The army said its troops also found a vehicle in the hospital containing a large number of weapons.
Reuters reported that Hamas said in a statement late on Thursday that claims by the Pentagon and US State Department that the group uses Al Shifa for military purposes “is a repetition of a blatantly false narrative, demonstrated by the weak and ridiculous performances of the occupation army spokesman.”
The United States is confident in an assessment from its own intelligence agencies on Hamas activities in Al Shifa hospital and will neither share nor elaborate on it, White House spokesperson John Kirby said on Thursday.
Both telecom companies in Gaza reported a complete outage of services in the region due to depleted energy supplies.
Meanwhile, Israel has refused to allow fuel imports, citing concerns that Hamas could potentially use them for military purposes. With communication systems down and a lack of fuel, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, stated that coordinating humanitarian aid truck convoys has become impossible.
“If the fuel does not come in, people will start to die because of the lack of fuel. Exactly as from when, I don’t know. But it will be sooner rather than later,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.
As of late Thursday night, there was no further word from the companies, Paltel and Jawwal, whose internet, mobile phone and landline networks remained inoperable.
Gaza health authorities deemed reliable by the United Nations said at least 11,500 people have been confirmed killed in an Israeli bombardment and ground invasion – more than 4,700 of them children.
The Israeli military’s chief of staff said Israel was close to destroying Hamas’ military system in the northern Gaza Strip and there were signs the army was taking its campaign to other parts of the enclave of 2.3 million people.
Israel distributed pamphlets telling civilians to leave four towns in southern Gaza, areas Gazans had been previously told would be safe.
Israeli officials said Hamas held some of the 240 hostages taken by gunmen on Oct. 7 in the hospital complex. The body of a woman hostage was recovered by troops in a building near Al Shifa on Thursday, the army said.
Military equipment including Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenades were also found in the building, it said.
“Hospitals only lose those protections if it can be shown that harmful acts have been carried out from the premises,” the watchdog’s UN Director Louis Charbonneau said.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, on his first visit to Israel since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, called on Israel to do more to protect civilians in Gaza.
“I understand your rage but let me ask you not to be consumed by rage,” Borrell said. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said Hamas was to blame not only for the Oct. 7 attack but also for the current plight of Palestinians in Gaza.
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