Israel signals wider operations in southern Gaza as search of hospital has yet to reveal Hamas base

by Lucas Garcia
Gaza Escalation

Israeli military forces have initiated a leaflet campaign in the southern regions of Gaza, urging civilians to vacate certain areas. This action indicates a potential escalation of military activities in regions already densely populated with people who have complied with previous evacuation directives, taking refuge in shelters and homes.

Concurrently, Israeli soldiers are conducting a thorough search of the Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza. The operation, which commenced on Wednesday, aims to uncover a purported Hamas command center, which Israeli authorities claim is located beneath the hospital. Both Hamas and the hospital’s staff refute these claims.

The expansion of military efforts to the south, where air raids are a daily occurrence, could exacerbate the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. An estimated 1.5 million individuals have been displaced within Gaza, many of whom have sought safety in the southern part of the region where resources such as food, water, and electricity are dwindling.

This conflict, which has now entered its sixth week, was instigated by a large-scale attack by Hamas into southern Israel on October 7. During this attack, over 1,200 individuals, primarily civilians, were killed, and approximately 240 people, including men, women, and children, were captured. Israel retaliated with an air campaign and a ground invasion into northern Gaza, declaring their intention to overthrow Hamas and dismantle its military infrastructure.

Palestinian health authorities report that over 11,200 Palestinians have been killed, with two-thirds being women and minors. Additionally, around 2,700 individuals are reported missing, many presumed to be trapped under debris. The provided figures do not differentiate between civilian and militant casualties.

Israeli troops have infiltrated Gaza’s largest hospital, Shifa, searching for evidence of Hamas’s presence. The hospital has been without electricity and other essential resources for several days, affecting newborns and hundreds of patients. Soldiers are investigating the hospital’s underground levels and have detained staff members responsible for operating medical equipment.

Amidst allegations of Hamas using civilians and hospital staff as human shields, the Israeli military has been under pressure to substantiate its claims. Inside Shifa, soldiers discovered duffel bags containing weapons and Hamas uniforms near an MRI lab. However, these claims have not been independently verified.

Officials from Hamas and Gaza’s health department deny any militant activity within the hospital, which houses over 500 beds and employs about 1,500 people. There are accusations against Israel for endangering civilians recklessly.

Munir al-Boursh, from Gaza’s Health Ministry, reported that Israeli troops extensively searched the hospital, including the emergency and surgery departments, looking for tunnels. They interrogated and screened patients, staff, and shelter seekers, although it’s unclear if any were detained.

While the military confirmed the elimination of four militants near the hospital, there have been no reports of militants firing from within Shifa or any combat inside the hospital following the entry of Israeli troops.

The military describes its operation in the hospital as precise and targeted, with medical teams bringing necessary supplies, including incubators. The hospital previously sheltered tens of thousands of fleeing Palestinians, but many have left due to the intensifying conflict. The hospital’s emergency generator, which ran out of fuel, has resulted in the deaths of 40 patients, including three babies. The condition of 36 other babies, who require incubators, remains uncertain.

In southern Gaza, leaflets were distributed east of Khan Younis, warning civilians to evacuate areas near militants. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated that the ground operation would encompass both the north and south, targeting Hamas wherever found.

The majority of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have relocated to the south, facing a severe fuel shortage that hinders humanitarian efforts and may lead to the suspension of mobile and internet services. The living conditions in the south are deteriorating, with shortages of basic necessities like bread and cooking fuel, and the absence of central electricity and running water.

Israel permitted a limited amount of fuel into Gaza to support the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, which provides basic services to numerous people. However, this fuel is insufficient for hospitals or water desalination and is far below what is needed for sustaining critical activities.

The Palestinian telecom company, Paltel, anticipates a shutdown in services due to the fuel and electricity crisis. Gaza has already experienced three significant communication outages since the ground invasion began.

As Israeli troops potentially advance southward, the question remains where the people of Gaza can seek refuge, especially with Egypt not allowing mass entry into its territory.

This report was contributed to by Chehayeb from Beirut and Amy Teibel in Jerusalem, with full coverage available at https://bigbignews.net/israel-hamas-war.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Gaza Escalation

What is the current situation in southern Gaza?

Israeli forces are urging civilians in southern Gaza to evacuate, indicating a potential expansion of military operations. This escalation follows a prolonged conflict that has already displaced over 1.5 million people in Gaza, leading to a severe humanitarian crisis with shortages of food, water, and electricity.

Why is Shifa Hospital in Gaza being searched by Israeli forces?

Israeli soldiers are searching Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza for evidence of a central Hamas command center. Israel claims this center is concealed beneath the hospital complex, a claim denied by both Hamas and the hospital staff.

How has the conflict in Gaza affected the civilian population?

The ongoing conflict has led to over 11,200 Palestinian deaths, with two-thirds being women and minors. Additionally, 2.7 million are reported missing, presumed under rubble. Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have moved south, facing shortages of essentials and the risk of a complete communication blackout due to fuel shortages.

What are the allegations against Hamas regarding Shifa Hospital?

The Israeli military alleges that Hamas is using the hospital, its patients, and staff as human shields, a claim that is part of Israel’s broader accusation of Hamas using civilians in this manner. Inside the hospital, Israeli troops found weapons and Hamas uniforms, although these claims have not been independently verified.

What are the conditions in southern Gaza following the Israeli military’s leaflet campaign?

After the Israeli military’s leaflet campaign in southern Gaza, residents face worsening conditions with limited resources. A fuel shortage is threatening to halt humanitarian services and communication systems. The area is already struggling with a scarcity of food, water, and electricity.

What has been the international response to the Israeli operation in Gaza?

There has been significant international concern over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. However, specific actions or statements from international bodies or nations in response to the latest Israeli military operations, particularly in southern Gaza and at Shifa Hospital, were not detailed in the provided text.

More about Gaza Escalation

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SarahK November 16, 2023 - 10:03 am

It’s just heartbreaking, all those people losing their homes and lives. When will this end?

Dave_thinker November 16, 2023 - 5:36 pm

Does anyone knw if other countries are stepping in to help? this seems like it needs a global response.

Linda_S November 16, 2023 - 9:00 pm

Can’t imagine what it’s like for families there, especially with the shortages of basic needs 🙁

Jenny87 November 16, 2023 - 9:42 pm

i’m surprised at the allegations against Hamas in the hospital, how can they prove this stuff?

JournalistGuy123 November 16, 2023 - 11:04 pm

israel forces do big ops in south gaza, hospitals search 4 hamas base, lots of people suffer. bad situation ☹️

Mark_the_Wise November 16, 2023 - 11:27 pm

its a complicated situation for sure, but seems like the civilians are the ones suffering the most, as usual.

GeoWatcher November 17, 2023 - 4:55 am

I read somewhere that the international community is concerned, but what are they actually doing about it? Talk is cheap…

Mike_Jones November 17, 2023 - 6:55 am

wow, this is really intense… can’t believe what’s happening in Gaza right now, hope everyone stays safe out there


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