Israel ramps up attacks on Khan Younis as aid for Gaza arrives in Egypt

Palestinian officials say seven people were killed by Israeli air raids that damaged homes near Nasser Hospital.

This picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardment on January 17, 2024 [AFP]Published On 17 Jan 202417 Jan 2024

Israel has increased attacks on Khan Younis in southern Gaza and sent tanks westwards, prompting accusations from Jordan that its field hospital in the city had been badly damaged by nearby shelling.

The Jordanian army said on Wednesday that it held Israel responsible for a “flagrant breach of international law” due to the damage to the facility.

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Elsewhere in the city, people at and around Nasser Hospital were forced to flee as Israeli tanks approached the district overnight following a statement from the Israeli army that it had come under fire in the area.

Palestinian health officials said at least seven people were killed by Israeli air raids that damaged homes near the hospital.

At least 24,448 people have been killed in the Israeli assault on Gaza since October 7, the Palestinian health ministry has said.

At least 1,139 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7 according to an Al Jazeera tally based on official figures.

Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud, reporting from southern Gaza, said there were growing fears that Nasser Hospital could soon not be operational as happened with several other facilities targeted by Israeli forces since the start of the war.

“The vast majority of healthcare facilities were attacked, destroyed and left severely damaged to the point that they’re pushed out of service completely,” he said.

[Al Jazeera]

Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said extra field hospitals were expected in the coming days.

“These have, of course, been necessitated by Hamas’s strategic militarisation of Gaza’s existing hospitals,” he said.

Hamas has repeatedly denied using hospitals for cover.

Israel also announced on Wednesday that it had killed six Palestinian fighters in southern Gaza.

In a statement, the military said its latest operation had resulted in the death of counterespionage officer Bilal Nofal and “significantly impacts the terrorist organisation’s capacity to develop and enhance its capabilities”.

Airport workers unload crates with aid delivered from Qatar, destined for Gaza, at El Arish International Airport, El Arish, Egypt [Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Handout via Reuters]

Aid

Under a deal brokered by Qatar and France, desperately needed aid and medication has arrived in the Egyptian city of El Arish near the Gaza border.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has welcomed the deal, which will see the 61 tonnes of medicine and food enter the enclave, and called it a “much-needed moment of relief”.

Israel’s war on Gaza has left its population facing crisis levels of hunger and at growing risk of disease as supplies run low, aid agencies said.

On Wednesday, the head of the Palestine Investment Fund, Mohammed Mustafa, told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that it would take at least $15bn to rebuild houses in Gaza, not accounting for basic infrastructure and hospitals.

“If the war in Gaza continues, more people are likely to die of hunger or famine than war,” Mustafa said.

[Al Jazeera]

At the beginning of January, Israel announced it was scaling back operations in northern Gaza and beginning a new phase of lower-intensity bombing.

However, Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum, reporting from Rafah in southern Gaza, said that does not seem to be reflected on the ground.

“The strikes have not stopped over the last few hours across the Gaza Strip, despite the fact that Israel says that they’re moving to a completely new phase with low-intensity bombing,” he said.

“We can see that the death toll and casualties among civilians keeps rising, to reach more than 163 Palestinians killed in the previous 24 hours,” he said, citing Palestinian authorities.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies