This photo released by Dr. Marawan Abu Saada shows prematurely born Palestinian babies in Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Nov. 12, 2023. (Dr. Marawan Abu Saada via AP)

Medics and patients, including babies, stranded as battles rage around Gaza hospitals

BY NAJIB JOBAIN AND JACK JEFFREY |

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) — Battles between Israel and Hamas around hospitals forced thousands of Palestinians to flee from some of the last perceived safe places in northern Gaza, stranding critically wounded patients, newborns and their caregivers with dwindling supplies and no electricity, health officials said Monday.

With Israeli forces fighting in the center of Gaza City, the territory’s main city, both sides have seized on the plight of hospitals as a symbol of the larger war, now in its sixth week. The fighting was triggered by Hamas’ Oct. 7 surprise attack into Israel, whose response has led to thousands of deaths — and much destruction — across Gaza.

Israel accuses Hamas of using hospitals as cover for its fighters. On Monday, the military released footage of a children’s hospital that its forces moved into over the weekend, showing weapons it said it found inside, as well as rooms in the basement where it believes the militants were holding some of the around 240 hostages they abducted during the initial attack.

“Hamas uses hospitals as an instrument of war,” said Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the army’s chief spokesman, standing in a room of the Rantisi Children’s Hospital decorated with a colorful children’s drawing of a tree, with explosive vests, grenades and RPGs displayed on the floor.

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