Signalling offensive in south, Israel asks Gazans to evacuate

erusalem, November 16

Palestinians in parts of southern Gaza said they received evacuation notices on Thursday. The signal that fighting is about to expand in the south comes a day after Israeli forces began searching a north Gaza hospital where they claimed Hamas militants operate — a claim that Hamas and hospital staff deny.

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia condemned the raid on Shifa Hospital, which has become a symbol of the widespread suffering of Palestinian civilians since Israel vowed to wipe out Hamas after the militant group launched its October 7 incursion. Some 1,200 persons have died in Israel, mostly during the initial attack, and around 240 were taken captive by militants.

The Israeli military displayed what it said were Hamas weapons and military equipment it uncovered in Shifa, but it has yet to show any evidence of an alleged Hamas command centre underneath or in the hospital.

Only a quarter of Gaza’s hospitals are still functioning, either because they have been damaged or because they ran out of fuel, the World Health Organisation said Wednesday.

More than 11,200 Palestinians — two-thirds of them women and minors — have been killed since the war began, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza. About 2,700 persons have been reported missing.

The United Nations human rights chief says “the Israeli occupation must end” in Palestinian areas, and that countries and people must recognise Israel’s right to exist.

Volker Turk spoke to diplomats in Geneva and heard their views in the wake of his trip to West Asia the week prior. Besides addressing Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and reiterating his concern about the October 7 attacks by Hamas in Israel, the rights chief also expressed his concern about rising tensions in the West Bank.

“I am ringing the loudest possible alarm bell about the occupied West Bank,” he said, expressing concern over the attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers, and the use of force there by Israeli security forces. — AP


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