Live updates | WHO official says Gaza hospital situation ‘catastrophic’ – Metro US

Live updates | WHO official says Gaza hospital situation ‘catastrophic’

Israel Palestinians
A wounded Palestinian child receives medical treatment at the Nasser Hospital following Israeli bombardment on Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman)

A top World Health Organization official described the hospital situation in Gaza as “catastrophic” on Monday, saying most are no longer functioning and what remains will likely be overwhelmed by thousands of births expected in the next month.

The United Nations briefing came hours after a shell struck the second floor of a hospital in northern Gaza, killing 12 people, according to the Hamas-led Health Ministry and a medical worker. The ministry and the worker both blamed Israel, which denied shelling the hospital.

Heavy fighting broke out around the Indonesian Hospital, which has housed thousands of patients and displaced people for weeks.

The fighting came a day after the World Health Organization evacuated 31 premature babies from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the territory’s largest, where they were among more than 250 critically ill or wounded patients stranded there days after Israeli forces entered the compound.

Israel says Hamas uses civilians and hospitals as shields, while critics say Israel’s siege and relentless aerial bombardment amount to collective punishment of the territory’s 2.3 million Palestinians after Hamas’ Oct. 7 rampage into southern Israel.

More than 12,700 Palestinians — two-thirds of them women and minors — have been killed since the war began, according to Palestinian health authorities, who do not differentiate between civilian and militant deaths. About 4,000 people are reported missing.

Some 1,200 people have been killed in Israel, mostly during the Oct. 7 attack, and around 240 were taken captive by militants.


— Israel reveals some signs of Hamas activity at Gaza’s largest hospital

— 31 premature babies are evacuated from Shifa Hospital

— Yemen’s Houthi rebels hijack an Israeli-linked ship in the Red Sea

— China welcomes Arab and Islamic foreign ministers for talks on ending the war in Gaza

— Attacks are on the rise in the West Bank, which faces its own war

— French performers lead a silent Paris march for peace between Israelis and Palestinians

— Tens of thousands rally in Pakistan against Israel’s bombing in Gaza

— Dissent over US policy in the Israel-Hamas war stirs unusual public protests from federal employees

— French Holocaust survivors are recoiling at new antisemitism, and activists are pleading for peace

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

Here’s what’s happening in the latest Israel-Hamas war:

TEL AVIV, Israel — A relative of a hostage captured by Hamas said late Monday that Israel’s top officials told him and other families of the captives they won’t prioritize their release over defeating Hamas.

Udi Goren, whose cousin Tal Chaimi is in captivity in Gaza, was one of several family members of hostages who met with the war cabinet, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“What we’ve heard is that taking down Hamas and bringing the hostages (home) are … equally important,” Goren told reporters after coming out of the meeting in Tel Aviv.

“This is incredibly disappointing because … we know that taking down Hamas, we keep hearing from them (it) is going to take months or years and it’s going to take a long time,” Goren said.

Goren also said the war cabinet — a body set up immediately after the Hamas attack and made up of Netanyahu, Yoav Gallant, the Minister of Defense and former military chief turned politician, Benny Gantz — did not share any details about any possible deal to release the hostages.

GAZA CITY — About 200 people have been evacuated from a northern Gaza hospital that was caught up in fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants on Monday.

Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesperson for Hamas’ Health Ministry, said the evacuees from Indonesian Hospital were taken to southern Gaza in a rescue effort coordinated by the United Nations and the International Committee for the Red Cross. Many of the injured evacuees are being treated at al-Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, he said.

Between 400 and 500 more wounded people remain at Indonesian Hospital, al-Qudra said in an interview with Al-Jazeera.

The evacuations came after 12 people were killed when a shell struck the second floor of the hospital, according to the Health Ministry and a medical worker at the hospital. Both blamed Israel, which denied shelling the hospital, saying its troops returned fire on militants who targeted them from inside the 3.5-acre compound.

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which helped arrange the release of four Israeli hostages held by Hamas, has met with the militant group’s supreme leader Ismail Haniyeh.

Mirjana Spoljaric traveled Monday to Qatar and met with the Hamas leader as part of the ICRC’s efforts to ensure respect for international humanitarian law.

ICRC has repeatedly called for the release of hostages and has been seeking access for its teams to visit hostages and deliver medication, as well as to help hostages to communicate with their families.

Spoljaric has met with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and relatives of some hostages in recent weeks at ICRC’s Geneva headquarters.

WASHINGTON — White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Monday the United States has its own intelligence assessment that “corroborated” Israeli claims that Hamas was using the Shifa Hospital in Gaza as a “command and control node.”

Hamas has denied claims that it’s operating from inside the hospital or from tunnels beneath it.

Kirby said the U.S. government doesn’t have any intelligence as to whether Hamas is also using the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza, where thousands of patients and displaced people have been sheltering for weeks. On Monday, 12 people were killed when a shell struck the second floor of the hospital as Israeli forces battled militants around it.

Israel denied shelling the hospital, saying its troops returned fire on militants who targeted them from inside the compound.

Kirby said he did not have an update on negotiations to release hostages. But Kirby said that pauses in fighting would be needed for the release of hostages.

GENEVA — The World Health Organization warned Monday that health services in Gaza had suffered “catastrophic” damage, with most hospitals no longer functioning.

“We now have 1.7 million people displaced so we have twice or three times the population (in the south of Gaza), using one third of the hospital beds in less than a third of the hospitals available,” Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, told a United Nations briefing, speaking from Geneva.

“Even if tomorrow morning, this were to end in terms of a ceasefire, we still have a huge problem on our hands.”

Ryan said the services in the territory were already unable to provide care for more complex medical cases – including care for most cancer and kidney dialysis patients – and would likely be overwhelmed by some 5,500 births expected in the next month.

Plans by the Israeli military to push further south, he said, would worsen health conditions even further.

“The hospital situation – the primary health care system situation – in Gaza is catastrophic and it is the worst you can imagine (in the) north,” Ryan said.

JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said Monday it has interrogated over 300 members of Hamas and other militant groups arrested in Gaza during its ground invasion, revealing the locations of underground tunnels, warehouses, weapons, and Hamas’ use of civilian infrastructure.

“Each and every interrogation leads to the release of new locations and the human intelligence that emerges from the Gaza Strip,” said a senior military official, speaking on condition of anonymity under army guidelines.

Israel has said Hamas has built a vast underground command complex center below Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest and best-equipped hospital. Gaza health officials and Hamas deny it.

MADRID — Spain Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Belgium Prime Minister Alexander de Croo will visit Israel and Palestinian territories on Thursday, the Spanish government said.

Spain holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council and Belgium will take over in January.

They will meet with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as with Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The government said the talks will focus on protection for civilians, the release of hostages, humanitarian access to Gaza and respect for international humanitarian law. It added they would also discuss the need for a lasting political solution for the region, based on the two-states solution.

BEIRUT — Israeli shelling hit the home of a Lebanese legislator from a political party allied with Hezbollah on Monday. No one was hurt.

Kabalan Kabalan, a senior official of the Shiite Muslim Amal group of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, told The Associated Press he was not at home when the shelling hit in the border village of Mais al-Jabal.

Tension has been rising along the Lebanon-Israel border since the Oct. 7 attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on southern Israel that killed more than 1,200 people. More than 12,700 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza in the ensuing Israeli bombardment, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in the West Bank, which coordinates with officials in the Health Ministry of Hamas-run Gaza.

Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group has been attacking Israeli posts along the border since last month, and attacks have intensified in recent days.

The shelling of Mais al-Jabal came hours after Hezbollah fighters fired two heavy Burkan rockets at an Israeli post along the border, causing heavy damage. Israeli airstrikes and shelling struck several areas along the Lebanese side of the border.

DEIR AL BALAH, Gaza Strip — In central Gaza, mourners recited funeral prayers as they stood over dozens of bodies recovered after a barrage of Israeli airstrikes that hit two refugee camps Monday.

The bodies, wrapped in white sheets and makeshift plastic body bags, were laid on the ground in the city of Deir Al Balah. Medics said dozens more remain unaccounted for and are believed to be trapped or buried under the rubble of multiple collapsed buildings.

At the scene of the bombing, residents sat in small groups in the rubble next to mangled steel reinforcement bars. The recovered bodies were placed in a truck to be buried nearby.

SDOT YAM, Israel — In the seaside kibbutz of Sdot Yam, the display tells the story of the terror: shoes, car keys, glasses, clothes. All left behind in the scramble to escape Hamas militants who came to kill people attending an outdoor music festival in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

The items have now been bundled together in Sdot Yam, a kibbutz by the Mediterranean about 180 kilometers (110 miles) north of Re’im where the shooting occurred, and family members have been called to collect them.

Activities being held at the kibbutz include yoga, ceramics and craft classes that bring the survivors and their families together.

Police said at least 360 people were killed by Hamas militants at the outdoor music festival out of a total of 1,200 people killed during Hamas’ bloody assault on Israel.

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-haq Kakar on Monday described the killing of children in Israeli strikes in Gaza as a massacre.

Kakar made the comment in a televised speech on World Children’s Day, which he said made him think of children in Gaza.

“They are being brutalized, mutilated and massacred by the Israeli forces,” Kakar said.

Kakar asked the United Nations and the international community to help stop Israeli strikes on children and women in Gaza.

Egypt’s state-run media say babies evacuated from Gaza’s embattled Shifa hospital have arrived in Egypt.

The Palestinian Red Crescent rescue service said it was transporting 28 premature babies from a hospital in southern Gaza to another across the border in Egypt on Monday. Egypt’s Al-Qahera satellite channel broadcast images of the babies inside Egyptian ambulances, without specifying how many had arrived.

On Sunday, the World Health Organization said 31 premature babies in “ extremely critical condition ” had been evacuated from Gaza’s largest hospital and would be transferred to Egypt for specialized care. There was no immediate explanation of the differing numbers.

Four other babies died in the two days before the evacuation on Sunday, according to Mohamed Zaqout, the director of Gaza hospitals.

TOKYO — Japan on Monday condemned the hijacking of a Japanese-operated cargo ship in the southern Red Sea and said it is doing its utmost to achieve the release of the vessel and its 25 crew members.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels seized the Israeli-linked cargo ship and took its crew hostage Sunday, raising fears that regional tensions heightened by the Israel-Hamas war were spilling into the seas. The Iran-backed rebel group said it would continue to target ships connected to Israel.

No Israelis were aboard the Bahamas-flagged ship Galaxy Leader, which was operated by Japan’s NYK Line with crew members from the Philippines, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Mexico and possibly Romania. Public shipping databases associated the ship’s owners with Ray Car Carriers, a company founded by Abraham Ungar, who is known as one of the richest people in Israel.

NYK Line said the Galaxy Leader was seized off the Yemeni coast while heading to India. NYK chartered the ship from its British owner, Galaxy Maritime Ltd. NYK said the ship had no cargo.

JERUSALEM — The families of Israeli hostages being held in Gaza have tearfully pleaded with Israeli lawmakers not to advance legislation that would permit the death penalty for convicted Palestinian militants, including those involved in Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault on Israel.

The families, who represent some of the 240 people abducted by Hamas and other militants that day, told far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir that the legislation risked angering Hamas and putting the lives of their relatives at risk.

“Not now, when the lives of our loved ones are on the line, when the sword is on their necks,” Gil Dikman, whose cousin is believed to be held hostage in Gaza, said Monday during an emotional hearing at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

The National Security Committee hearing devolved into a screaming match between nationalist lawmakers and hostage families. After the hearing, Ben-Gvir wrote on X, formerly called Twitter, that the legislation is an important tool for increasing pressure on Hamas. “In the Middle East, you don’t blink, you hit your enemy with every tool and bring them to their knees,” he said.

Ophir Katz, the head of the government coalition and a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, told reporters that the amendment to the penal code would not come up for a vote until it was vetted by senior Cabinet members and Netanyahu.

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he has decided to grant the country’s central bank chief a second term.

The move to keep on central bank Gov. Amir Yaron was an attempt by Israel to signal stability at a turbulent time for the country’s economy, which has been rocked by the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and the war it set off.

Yaron’s term was set to wrap up in December. His ties with Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich had been icy before the war because of his criticism of a planned government overhaul to the country’s judiciary.

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Materials to build a Jordanian field hospital have arrived in Gaza through the Rafah border crossing.

Jordan will build the hospital in southern Gaza to help with the territory’s health crisis. Jordan’s palace said in a statement that the equipment was carried by 40 trucks and that the hospital, to be constructed in Khan Younis, would have 145 staff and 41 beds.

TEL AVIV, Israel — An Israeli Cabinet minister is promoting the idea of resettling Palestinians from the Gaza Strip in foreign countries as a way to ensure Israel’s security along the border once the war with Hamas is over.

Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel said in an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post newspaper on Sunday that “voluntary resettlement” was the best way to provide Palestinians from Gaza with a better life. “It could be a win-win solution,” she wrote. Gamliel did not say what her plan would mean for those who chose to remain in Gaza, nor what countries would be open to take them. She did not specify what Israel’s role would be in a future Gaza.

Gamliel’s proposal stands in sharp contrast to the postwar vision for Gaza set forth by Israel’s top ally, the United States, which opposes the idea of displacement. The U.S. calls for a united and Palestinian-led government for Gaza and the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority after the war ends, while Gamliel, echoing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank, cannot have a foothold in Gaza.