Israeli airstrike on Gaza hospital camp kills 2 Palestinians

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip –

An Israeli airstrike hit a tent camp inside a hospital in central Gaza on Sunday, killing two Palestinians and wounding 15 others.

The attack hit one of several tents in the courtyard of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, where thousands of people have taken refuge for months after fleeing their homes elsewhere in the war-ravaged territory. war.

Journalists worked from nearby tents and an Associated Press reporter witnessed the strike and its aftermath. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

Tens of thousands of people have sought refuge in Gaza hospitals since the start of the war, considering them relatively safe from airstrikes. Israel accuses Hamas and other militants of operating in and around medical facilities, and troops have raided several hospitals.

Israeli troops have been attacking Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest, for almost two weeks and say they have fought heavy fighting with militants in and around the medical complex. The army says it has killed dozens of fighters, including senior Hamas officials.

Palestinian families who fled the area, including many who had already been displaced earlier in the war, say Israeli soldiers ordered them to march south after days of intense fighting.

Only a third of Gaza’s hospitals are even partially functioning, even though Israeli attacks kill and wound dozens of people every day. Doctors say they are often forced to treat patients on hospital floors because all the beds are occupied and to operate without anesthesia or other crucial medical supplies.

An international team of doctors who had recently visited Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, where Sunday’s attack occurred, said they were horrified by the horrific impact of the war on Palestinian children.

The war began when Hamas-led militants stormed across the border on October 7 and rampaged through southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people and dragging about 250 hostages back to Gaza. More than 100 captives were freed last year in exchange for the release of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Israel responded to the attack with one of the deadliest and most destructive military campaigns in recent history, which has driven around 80 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents from their homes.

The United Nations and its partners have warned that famine could hit the devastated and largely isolated northern Gaza as early as this month. Humanitarian officials say deliveries by sea and air are not enough and that Israel must allow much more aid by road. The UN’s top court ordered Israel to open more land crossings and take other measures to address the crisis.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said Sunday that at least 32,782 Palestinians have died since the start of the war, including 77 whose bodies were taken to hospitals in the past 24 hours. The ministry’s count does not differentiate between civilians and combatants, but has said women and children account for about two-thirds of the dead.

Israel says more than a third of those killed are militants, although it has provided no evidence to support that claim, and blames Hamas for civilian casualties because the group operates in residential areas.

The United States, Qatar and Egypt have been trying to negotiate another ceasefire and the release of hostages since January. Hamas demands that any such agreement lead to the end of the war and the withdrawal of all Israeli forces.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected those demands and says Israel will continue fighting until it has destroyed Hamas’s military and governance capabilities. But he is under increasing pressure to reach a deal from the hostages’ families, some of whom have joined mass demonstrations calling for early elections to replace him.

Ceasefire talks resumed in Cairo on Sunday, with little hope of progress.

Magdy reported from Cairo.

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