Arab and Muslim leaders called for a ceasefire, also demanded by thousands of demonstrators in Europe, amid fears of a widening of the conflict after a skirmish between Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah.
Sunday, the 37th day of war, triggered by an unprecedented attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on Israeli soil on October 7, 20 of the 36 hospitals in the Gaza Strip are out of service according to the UN humanitarian affairs office ( Ocha).
Explosions and heavy exchanges of fire in Gaza City, in the north of this Palestinian territory of some 360 km2 controlled by Hamas since 2007, are visible on AFP images.
- Incessant bombings –
Israel declared war on Hamas after the attack carried out by its commandos, to eradicate the Islamist movement. Since then, Israeli bombings have left 11,078 dead on the Palestinian side, mainly civilians, including 4,506 children, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.
On the Israeli side, at least 1,200 people were killed, the majority civilians on the day of the attack by Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization for Israel, the United States and the European Union. Some 240 hostages were taken to Gaza, according to the Israeli army, which has lost 42 soldiers since the launch of the ground offensive on October 27.
The fighting is taking place in the heart of Gaza City, where, according to Israel, the center of the Islamist movement’s infrastructure is located, entrenched in a network of tunnels.
Several international organizations are concerned about the fate of hospitals. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has reported incessant bombings on hospitals in Gaza City. The al-Chifa hospital, the largest in the territory, was hit several times, including the maternity ward.
Two premature babies died because their incubator no longer worked, there was no more electricity, said Dr Mohammed Obeid, MSF surgeon in the neonatal department, in a message broadcast by the NGO on the social network .
His department houses around 40 premature newborns, including 17 in intensive care, he said.
- Evacuation of babies –
Another adult patient died because his artificial respirator stopped due to lack of electricity, he added, highlighting the precariousness that reigns in the hospital: There is no electricity, no water, no food in this establishment which accommodates 600 patients.
The shooting never stops, the airstrikes are incessant like artillery shells, a witness who is in this hospital told AFP by telephone.
The armed wing of Islamic Jihad, an ally of Hamas, confirmed that its fighters were engaged in violent clashes, particularly in the vicinity of the al-Chifa complex, against Israeli soldiers.
The situation in this hospital is truly catastrophic, warned Ann Taylor, MSF head of mission in the Palestinian Territories.
For his part, the director of the hospital, Mohammed Abou Salmiya, asked the international community to put pressure on the Israeli government to stop targeting hospitals and ambulances.
But the Israeli army denied on Saturday that it had targeted the hospital, calling reports that its troops were surrounding and striking the facility false.
She further indicated that she would help evacuate the babies from the pediatric ward to a safer hospital on Sunday.
In a new statement released overnight, Mohammed Abou Salmiya, however, reaffirmed that the hospital is completely surrounded and bombings continue in its surroundings.
The medical team cannot work and the bodies, by the dozens, cannot be managed or buried, he added.
- Conviction in Riyadh –
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, Israeli tanks are 20 meters from Al-Quds hospital, another establishment in Gaza City where 14,000 displaced people are sheltering.
The hospital is isolated for the sixth consecutive day due to incessant bombardments which directly target the establishment, the organization said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said responsibility for any harm done to civilians lies with Hamas, which he says is using them as human shields.
The multiple calls for an end to the fighting since the start of ground operations have been rejected by Israel and its main ally, the United States, believing that such a decision would benefit Hamas.
In London, around 300,000 people demonstrated on Saturday for a ceasefire now. There were 20,000 in Brussels, 16,000 in Paris and around 500 in Tunis.
Several thousand demonstrators demand on November 11, 2023 in Tel Aviv the return of hostages held in the Gaza Strip since the bloody Hamas attack on October 7
Several thousand demonstrators demand on November 11, 2023 in Tel Aviv the return of hostages held in the Gaza Strip since the bloody Hamas attack on October 7 © / afp.com/AHMAD GHARABLI
In the evening, several thousand people gathered in Tel Aviv to demand the return of the hostages, setting up a long dining table with more than 200 empty chairs.
In Riyadh, Arab and Muslim leaders meeting at an extraordinary summit condemned double standards in international reactions to the war, rejecting the Israeli argument of self-defense after the Hamas attack.
The head of Saudi diplomacy castigated countries which (…) turn a blind eye to Israel’s failure to respect the basics of international law.
- Caution –
The international community fears an extension of the conflict on the border between Lebanon and Israel, where there have been daily exchanges of fire since October 8 between the army and Hezbollah and targeting targets deeper each day in both countries. Israeli military strikes also target Syria from where Hezbollah launches rockets.
The leader of the Shiite movement, Hassan Nasrallah, spoke of a strengthening of operations against Israel. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned, saying Beirut could suffer the same fate as Gaza if Hezbollah drags Lebanon into war.
More than 90 people were killed on the Lebanese side during cross-border clashes, according to an AFP count, most of them Hezbollah fighters. Six soldiers and two civilians were killed on the Israeli side, according to Israeli authorities.
This article is originally published on lexpress.fr