Middle East

Israel orders new evacuations in southern Gaza, prompting transfer of hospital patients

By Kareem Khadder, Abeer Salman, Michael Schwartz and Alex Stambaugh, CNN

CNN  — 

The Israeli military issued new evacuation orders on Monday for areas in southern Gaza, including eastern Khan Younis and Rafah. This forced residents, many already displaced, to find new shelter, due to the suggestion of the possibility of another ground operation.

The Gaza European Hospital in Khan Younis, one of the territory’s last standing hospitals, is within the evacuation zone. It has transferred patients, including those in intensive care and babies in incubators, and medical equipment to other facilities “in fear of bloodshed,” according to the hospital’s deputy director and doctors.

“It’s a chaotic scene and very difficult and dire,” Dr. Saleh al Hams, deputy director of Gaza European Hospital in Khan Younis, told CNN. This is his third evacuation, he said.

Another ground operation in Khan Younis would underscore the difficulties faced by the Israeli military in trying to root out Palestinian militants from Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) withdrew its ground forces from the city in April after months of fierce fighting that left much of it in ruins. After more than eight months of war, militants continue to hold dozens of Israeli hostages and fire rockets at Israel.

Still, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted on Monday that the country’s military is advancing to the “end of the stage of eliminating” Hamas’ army in Gaza and will “continue striking its remnants.” He vowed that Israel would achieve its goals in war: returning the hostages held in Gaza as well as eliminating Hamas’ military and governing capabilities.

On Tuesday, the IDF said that about 20 projectiles were launched from the Khan Younis area toward Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip on Monday, adding that it struck targets in the area from which the projectiles were fired.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad said on Monday that it fired “targeted rockets” at five Israeli communities close to the Gaza border.

On Monday, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) reported that the emergency room at Al Amal Hospital in Khan Younis was overwhelmed with injuries after patients were transferred from the European Hospital following an Israeli military evacuation order for the Al Fukhari area. PRCS said the hospital also received patients from Nasser Hospital, which had similarly become overcrowded with patients from the European Hospital.

Wastewater, rubble and destroyed residential buildings in Khan Younis, Gaza on Saturday.

In a separate statement, hours after the initial evacuation order, the IDF said the order “does not apply to the patients in the European Hospital or the medical staff working there.”

“There is no intention to evacuate the European Hospital,” the IDF statement added.

Videos posted to social media showed hospital patients on stretchers being moved through nearby streets following the order.

On Tuesday, Louise Wateridge, a spokesperson for the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, who is currently in Gaza, reported a “massive” movement of people from the evacuation zones following the Israeli military’s latest order. The agency anticipates that around 250,000 people will leave the evacuation zones after the latest order.

Meanwhile, Israeli strikes and shelling on Khan Younis continued, with at least eight people killed and 32 injured overnight, according to Nasser hospital.

CNN’s Tamar Michaelis, Sugam Pokharel and Mostafa Salem contributed to this report.

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