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Live updates | Fighting near central Gaza hospital prompts medics, patients and others to flee south

Witnesses say that fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants near the main hospital in central Gaza has caused medics, patients and displaced people to flee

The Associated Press
Monday 08 January 2024 09:38 GMT

Fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants near the main hospital in central Gaza has caused medics, patients and displaced people to flee, witnesses said Monday.

The withdrawal by Doctors Without Borders and other aid groups from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah spread panic among people sheltering there and led many to leave for the southern part of the besieged territory. Omar al-Darawi, an employee at the hospital, said it has been struck multiple times in recent days and that patients have been concentrated on one floor so the remaining doctors can tend to them more easily.

Israel says it has largely concluded major operations in northern Gaza and is now focusing on the central region and the southern city of Khan Younis. Israeli officials have said the fighting will continue for many more months as the army seeks to dismantle Hamas and return scores of hostages taken during the militant group’s Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war.

Hamas' attack from Gaza into southern Israel killed around 1,200 people, and some 250 others were taken hostage. Israel’s air, ground and sea assault in Gaza has killed more than 22,400 people, two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory. The count does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.

Currently:

— Palestinians flee from central Gaza’s main hospital as fighting draws closer and aid groups withdraw

— With every strike and counterstrike, Israel, the US and Iran’s allies inch closer to all-out war

— Israel says Hezbollah struck sensitive air traffic base in the north and warns of ‘another war’

— Blinken meets Jordanian and Qatari leaders on new Mideast push to keep Gaza war from spreading

— 7 Palestinians, an Israeli policewoman and a motorist are killed in West Bank violence

— An Al Jazeera journalist is the fifth member of his family killed by Israeli strikes on Gaza

— Find more of AP's coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

Here's what's happening in the war:

ISRAELI JUDGE WILL JOIN ICJ PANEL HEARING GENOCIDE CASE AGAINST ISRAEL

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel’s Justice Ministry says former Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak will serve as a judge at the International Court of Justice, joining a panel that will hear South Africa’s genocide case against Israel.

Barak, an influential Israeli jurist with international renown, is at the center of a national divide in Israel over the power of the courts. Critics, including from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government, say he is an overly activist judge who in the 1990s spearheaded legal changes that granted courts more sway. Opponents of Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the judiciary see Barak as a champion of democracy and liberal values.

Israel and South Africa are both entitled to send judges to sit alongside the regular 15-judge panel, according to Israeli international law expert Robbie Sabel. Israel will have British international law expert Malcolm Shaw as part of its defense team, the Justice Ministry also said Monday.

Barak, 87, is a Holocaust survivor. He will be among the judges deciding whether to issue an interim order demanding Israel halt its war. Such orders are legally binding but not always enforceable.

The court this week will begin hearing South Africa’s allegations against Israel that it is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. Israel says it is acting in self-defense after hundreds of Hamas-led militants killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took 250 people hostage during its attack on Oct. 7.

ISRAELI FINANCE MINISTER SAYS ISRAEL SHOULD RESETTLE GAZA STRIP

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israel’s ultranationalist finance minister says Israel must resettle the Gaza Strip, saying that otherwise the country will need to contend with “2 million Nazis who want to annihilate us.”

Bezalel Smotrich, a champion of West Bank Jewish settlements, has repeatedly made inflammatory remarks about Israel’s post-war intentions in Gaza. He recently sparked an international outcry over his comments calling for Palestinians in Gaza to leave the territory.

He and other far-right Cabinet ministers in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government have used the war against Hamas to promote their view that Israel should resettle Gaza, from where it withdrew troops and several thousand civilians in 2005.

Speaking late Sunday a conservative television station, Smotrich said Israel must reestablish a Jewish presence in the coastal enclave because “if we won’t be there and there will be 2 million Nazis who want to annihilate us every morning when they wake up, we won’t exist, period.”

He said Israel would face more militant attacks like Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault without Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip. Israeli settlements in Gaza, which were established in the 1967 Mideast war, also faced attacks by militants.

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