An Israeli airstrike on a hospital tent camp in Gaza kills 2 Palestinians

An Israeli airstrike has hit a tent camp inside a hospital in central Gaza, killing two Palestinians and wounding another 15

Wafaa Shurafa,Samy Magdy
Sunday 31 March 2024 12:31 BST

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

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

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

Tens of thousands of people have sought shelter in Gaza's hospitals since the start of the war, viewing them as relatively safe from airstrikes. Israel accuses Hamas and other militants of operating in and around medical facilities, and troops have raided a number of hospitals.

Israeli troops have been raiding Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest, for nearly two weeks and say they have fought heavy battles with militants in and around the medical compound. The military says it has killed scores of fighters, including senior Hamas operatives.

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

Only a third of Gaza's hospitals are even partially functioning, even as Israeli strikes kill and wound scores of people every day. Doctors say they are often forced to treat patients on hospital floors because all the beds are taken, and to operate without anesthetic and other crucial medical supplies.

A international team of doctors who had recently visited Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, where Sunday's strike occurred, said they were horrified by the war's gruesome impact on Palestinian children.

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

Israel responded to the assault with one of the deadliest and most destructive military campaigns in recent history, one that has driven around 80% of Gaza's population of 2.3 million from their homes.

The United Nations and partners have warned that famine could occur in devastated, 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 far more aid by road. The top U.N. court has 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 been killed since the start of the war, including 77 whose bodies were brought to hospitals over the last 24 hours. The ministry's count does not differentiate between civilians and fighters, but it has said that women and children make up around two-thirds of those killed.

Israel says over one-third of the dead are militants, though it has not provided evidence to support that, and it blames Hamas for civilian casualties because the group operates in residential areas.

The United States, Qatar and Egypt have been trying to broker another cease-fire and hostage release since January. Hamas is demanding that any such agreement lead to an end to the war and the withdrawal of all Israeli forces.

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

The cease-fire talks resumed in Cairo on Sunday, with little expectation of any breakthrough.

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Magdy reported from Cairo.

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

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