Israeli forces escalate siege on Nasser hospital, several patients killed

After more than three weeks of intense bombardment of the hospital, Israeli forces have stormed the hospital as the war on Gaza reaches 134th day

February 16, 2024 by Peoples Dispatch
Israel continues to besiege the Nasser Medical Complex. Photo: via Palestine Chronicle

Israeli forces stormed the besieged Nasser hospital in the city of Khan Younis, on February 16, following more than three weeks of intense bombardment and ground attacks on the hospital and the surrounding area. Thousands of displaced Palestinian civilians, patients, and medical staff are trapped inside the hospital as Israeli forces carry out their deadly raid on the hospital with intense firing and shelling in the area.

According to latest reports, the devastating raid on the Nasser hospital has resulted in the forcible evacuation of thousands of Palestinians who were taking refuge in the hospital. Israeli forces had reportedly made people leave the hospital at gunpoint and amid heavy shelling and gunfire.

Read more: In a flagrant violation of international law, Israel intensifies siege of Nasser Medical Complex

Israeli forces have also reportedly arrested dozens of Palestinians, including several doctors and other medical staff, accusing them of being “terrorists” and members of Palestinian resistance group, Hamas. The Israeli raid has also caused a power outage at the hospital, resulting in the deaths of five patients, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. 

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), responding to the Nasser hospital raid, has said that it is “deeply worried” and that the raid “appears to be part of a pattern of attacks by Israeli forces striking essential life-saving civilian infrastructure in Gaza, especially hospitals.”

“Our Office has documented similar raids in Gaza City, North Gaza, Middle Gaza and in Khan Younis, with serious consequences for the safety of patients, medical and other staff, as well as civilians sheltering in these facilities,” the OHCHR stated.

It added that medical facilities are protected infrastructure under international humanitarian law. “They are entitled to special protection and must not be the object of attack nor be used outside their humanitarian function for acts harmful to the enemy. Even if Israel contends that a medical facility has lost its protection as a result of being used for acts harmful to the Israeli forces, it must nevertheless comply with the principles of precautions and proportionality,” the UN body contended.

The World Health Organization has also called for an end to the raid and has demanded access to the hospital in order to provide life-saving services. The WHO spokesperson, Tarik Jasarevic, said that “there are still critically injured and sick patients that are inside the hospital. There is an urgent need to deliver fuel to ensure the continuation of the provision of life-saving services. … We are trying to get access because people who are still in Nasser Medical Complex need assistance.”

The international medical charity, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), also called on Israel to end its attacks on the hospital, besides also writing on X that “after the bombing yesterday morning, our cadres reported an atmosphere of chaos, with an unknown number of dead and wounded. The fate of one of our colleagues remains unknown since the attack.”

Dozens of Palestinians have also been killed and injured in other parts of Gaza in fresh airstrikes and ground bombardment since yesterday as Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza completes 134 days today.

In other parts of Gaza, Israeli forces have killed at least 112 Palestinians and injured another 157 since yesterday. Seven Palestinians have been killed in an airstrike in the city of Rafah, where 1.5 million Palestinians are taking refuge and are trapped amid fears of a planned Israeli ground invasion, which the international community has unanimously expressed concern for and opposed.

Several more Palestinians have also been killed in the continuing Israeli assault in other parts of Gaza, including Jabalia, Khan Younis, Gaza city, among other areas. The total death toll in Gaza since Israel launched its genocidal war in October last year has reached close to 28,800, while at least 68,500 have been injured so far. Despite the staggeringly high number of casualties and injuries, there are still no signs of a ceasefire or any concrete and effective action from the international community, particularly the United States, to force Israel to end the war.