Middle East

Israeli tanks ‘firing live ammunition’ in Khan Younis hospital complex, aid group says

By Kareem Khadder, Tim Lister and Richard Greene, CNN

CNN  —  Israeli tanks fired live ammunition and smoke grenades after entering a hospital complex in southern Gaza where more than 8,000 people are sheltering, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said Tuesday.

After surrounding the Al Amal hospital in Khan Younis for more than a week, Israeli military vehicles drove into the compound and were stationed in the hospital’s front yard, which is crowded with thousands of displaced people, according to the PRCS.

The tanks were “firing live ammunition and smoke grenades,” the aid agency said in a series of messages between 10 a.m. ET and 11 a.m. ET.

CNN is unable to verify the situation independently and has asked the Israel Defense Forces for comment.

In the past, Israel has frequently asserted that Hamas is using hospitals and other infrastructure as a cover for tunnels and military operations.

Earlier, Israeli forces asked people to “evacuate the building at gunpoint,” Muhammad Abu Musabih, director of Ambulance and Emergency Services at the hospital, told CNN in an audio message.

The PRCS also reported fire from Israeli tanks in the area earlier Tuesday, which it said killed one displaced woman and injured nine others.

Some 8,000 displaced people and 100 staff are at the hospital and the PRCS headquarters that is adjacent to the hospital, a PRCS official told CNN.

Israeli forces “demolished the outer wall of the building and fired … smoke bombs at the displaced people and the association’s staff,” the organization said.

“The situation is becoming more dangerous. We are extremely concerned for the safety of our crews, the wounded, the sick, and the thousands of displaced people in the building.”

Despite frequent shelling and strikes in the area, medics have tried to sustain operations at Al Amal.

Residents of northern Gaza were originally told to evacuate to the southern city, but with Israeli operations now focused on Khan Younis the situation is worsening for the already displaced people.

As the Israeli military issues instructions for people to leave neighborhoods in the area, journalists have told CNN there may be as many as 100,000 displaced people in United Nations shelters and other facilities in the area.

Many are afraid to move to supposedly safer areas and little aid has reached these facilities in recent days because of the fighting.

Since the start of the war in Gaza, Israel has faced fierce criticism for launching attacks in and around hospitals, which are protected under international humanitarian law.

In a separate operation Tuesday, Israeli special forces dressed as civilians and medical staff infiltrated a hospital in the West Bank city of Jenin and killed three Palestinian men it claimed were planning a “serious attack” on Israel citizens.

The raid on the West Bank hospital was defended by the IDF’s Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi, who claimed the men targeted were involved in a terrorist cell planning a “serious atack” on Israel civilians.

“We do not want to turn hospitals into battlefields,” Halevi said, “But we are even more determined not to allow hospitals in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Lebanon, above ground or in tunnel shafts and tunnels under hospitals, to become a place that is a cover for terrorism, and one that allows terrorists to stash weapons, to rest, to go out to carry out an attack.”

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