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The Latest | Largest hospital in central Gaza faces imminent shutdown due to lack of fuel

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)
Original Publication Date May 23, 2024 - 1:26 AM

The largest hospital serving central Gaza faces imminent shutdown because it is running out of power after Israel’s military assault in Rafah severely limited entry of fuel for generators, the Health Ministry in Gaza said Thursday.

Losing Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital would leave only two hospitals operating in Deir al-Balah, according to the U.N., at a time when the city is flooded with Palestinians fleeing Rafah in the south.

In Israel, Benny Gantz, one of three members of the War Cabinet, called for an urgent investigation into the country's failures leading to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. It's another sign of escalating divisions within the War Cabinet let by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who says Israel must focus on winning the war and only then investigate its failures.

Hamas, diminished but not deterred, is still putting up a fight after seven brutal months of war with Israel, regrouping in some of the hardest-hit areas in northern Gaza and resuming rocket attacks into nearby Israeli communities. Israel says its troops are operating in Rafah, central Gaza and in Jabaliya in the north.

Israel faces global criticism over the mounting death toll and devastating humanitarian crisis in Gaza. More than 900,000 Palestinians have been displaced by fighting in the past few weeks alone, and now lack shelter, food, water and other essentials, the U.N. humanitarian agency said Wednesday.

At least 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, according to the Health Ministry, which doesn’t distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Israel launched its war in Gaza after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed about 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250.

Currently:

How does this end? With Hamas holding firm and fighting back in Gaza, Israel faces only bad options.

— ICC prosecutor’s warrant requests for Israel and Hamas leaders ignite debate about the court’s role.

— Norway, Ireland and Spain recognize a Palestinian state in a historic move.

— Families of Israeli hostages release video of female soldiers being captured by Hamas.

First aid from the U.S. pier in Gaza has reached starving Palestinians, the U.N. says.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

Here's the latest:

SURROUNDED BY ISRAELI TROOPS, HOSPITAL PATIENTS AND STAFF TRAPPED WITHOUT WATER IN NORTHERN GAZA

CAIRO — The director of one of the main hospitals in northern Gaza says around 27 patients and staff remain in the facility without water and little fuel, surrounded by Israeli troops.

Mohammed Salha said Thursday that Awda Hospital was largely evacuated a day earlier but that some of the patients could not taken out because there were no ambulances. He and other health workers were staying with them, he told The Associated Press.

The hospital has been surrounded by Israeli forces since Sunday amid days of fighting between troops and Hamas militants in the nearby Jabaliya refugee camp. During that time, artillery shelling hit the hospital's fifth floor, and since then everyone has crowded into an emergency room on a lower floor.

The Israeli military declined comment on the situation at Awda Hospital, saying it would not comment on the locations of its forces.

There had been about 140 people inside the facility until most evacuated Wednesday. Israeli troops searched the hospital after the evacuation, and still surround it, Salha told the AP.

He said 14 health workers remain inside, treating 11 patients, including two children whose mothers stayed with them.

Salha said fuel was running out and there was no more clean water. “The little medicine we have is not enough,” he said, adding that there were medicines in a nearby storeroom but it was unreachable because of Israeli troops.

THREE AMERICAN SERVICE MEMBERS INJURED AT SEA WHILE ASSIGNED TO GAZA AID PIER, U.S MILITARY SAYS

WASHINGTON — Three U.S. service members assigned to the floating pier system that is helping bring aid into Gaza received minor injuries while at sea working on the distribution process, Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, the deputy commander of Central Command, told reporters on a call Thursday.

One of the service members was on a ship. Cooper did not provide details on the other two, but said two of the troops had already returned to duty, while a third was receiving care at an Israeli hospital.

Ships deliver aid to the floating pier, which is large enough that forklifts can be driven on it to move pallets of cargo around. The pallets are transferred onto trucks, which in turn are loaded onto smaller Army boats. The boats then shuttle the trucks from the pier to a floating causeway, which is anchored to the shore.

No U.S. service members are on the causeway or on the ground in Gaza, Cooper said.

LARGEST HOSPITAL IN CENTRAL GAZA FACES IMMINENT SHUTDOWN DUE TO LACK OF FUEL, HEALTH MINISTRY SAYS

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Gaza’s Health Ministry says the largest hospital serving central Gaza faces imminent shutdown because it is running out of power after Israel’s military assault in Rafah severely limited entry of fuel for generators.

The ministry said Thursday afternoon that Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the central town of Deir al-Balah would have to stop operations within two hours. Later, after nightfall, the hospital appeared largely blacked out in Associated Press footage, although it was not clear if it had shut down.

The ministry said the hospital was currently treating more than 600 patients and wounded people and that some 650 other kidney dialysis patients rely on treatment there – warning that their lives could be threatened if the hospital closes.

Losing Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital would leave only two hospitals operating in Deir al-Balah, according to the U.N., at a time when the town has been flooded by Palestinians fleeing Rafah. Across Gaza, only about a third of its original 36 hospitals still function, and those only partially.

The hospital received 3,000 liters of fuel on Wednesday but needs 5,000 liters a day to operate, the Health Ministry said.

On May 6, Israeli troops seized the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, the main entry point for fuel into Gaza.

The U.N. needs 200,000 liters a day to keep hospitals and other operations running, but Philippe Lazzarini, head of the main U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said entry of fuel since May 6 has become “extremely uneven.” The U.N. received 70,000 liters on Sunday, another 100,000 on Tuesday, he said.

The Rafah crossing has been closed since the Israeli seizure. Israel has asked Egypt to coordinate with it over the entry of aid trucks. Egypt has refused, fearing the Israeli seizure will become permanent, and says Palestinians must be allowed to run the crossing.

ISRAEL'S GANTZ CALLS FOR INVESITGATION OF OCT. 7 FAILURES, IN A SIGN OF WIDENING DIVISIONS AMONG ISRAELI LEADERS

JERUSALEM -- Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s three-member War Cabinet, has called for an urgent investigation into Israel’s failures leading to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. Gantz’s statement, made in a video posted to X, was another sign of escalating divisions in the Israeli War Cabinet.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who leads the War Cabinet, has put off investigating what went wrong on Oct. 7 -- when Hamas militants stormed into Israel and killed 1,200 people and kidnapped 250 others. Netanyahu says Israel must focus on winning the war and only then investigate its failures.

But Gantz said the time has come for a special investigative commission to be formed.

“It is not enough that we take responsibility for what happened - we must learn lessons and act so that it never happens again,” he wrote on X.

Gantz has threatened to resign if Netanyahu does not adopt a postwar plan for Gaza in three week’s time. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, the third member of the War Cabinet, has also urged Netanyahu to present a postwar plan.

ISRAELI STRIKE KILLS 15 AT AID WAREHOUSE IN CENTRAL GAZA, INCLUDING 3 WOMEN

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Hospital officials in Gaza say 15 Palestinians were killed, including three women, when an Israeli strike hit an aid warehouse where displaced people had been sheltering in central Gaza.

The strike hit the warehouse of Gaza’s Social Development Ministry in the town of Deir al-Balah on Thursday. Officials at the nearby Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital confirmed the death toll.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

A number of displaced families were taking shelter in the warehouse, run by the ministry in Gaza’s Hamas-led government, and it was not clear if it was still storing aid as well. Deir al-Balah has been flooded by thousands of Palestinians fleeing Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah after Israel launched a ground assault there two weeks ago.

Israel’s bombardment and offensives in Gaza have killed more than 35,500 Palestinians in Gaza over the past seven months, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, which does not differentiate between civilians and combatants. Israel launched its campaign after Hamas’ Oct 7 attack, in which militants killed around 1,200 people and took around 250 hostage, around half of whom remain in captivity.

U.N. SOUNDS ALARM AS AID FLOWS INTO GAZA ARE BEING ‘CHOKED OFF’

UNITED NATIONS – U.N. humanitarian officials warn that Israel's closing of the Rafah border crossing and the limited functioning of the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Gaza “have choked off the flow of life-saving supplies” including food and fuel.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the World Food Program reports that no food distribution is taking place in the south “except for some limited stocks that are being provided to community kitchens for hot meals.”

Since the beginning of May, he said WFP has worked with more than 70 community kitchens across Gaza to provide some 4.4 million hot meals to people in Gaza.

U.N. humanitarian officials warn that “if aid does not begin to enter Gaza in massive quantities, desperation and hunger will spread even further,” the U.N. spokesman said.

As for fuel, Dujarric said just over one million liters of fuel (264,000 gallons) have entered the Gaza Strip since Israel launched its military operation in Rafah on May 6.

That's just 29% of the fuel that would have entered Gaza under arrangements in place before May 6, he said.

Dujarric said this is “further hindering the functioning of bakeries, hospitals, water wells, and other critical infrastructure.”

Meanwhile, the U.N. World Health Organization reports that many hospitals in Gaza lack fuel and medicine due to the closure of the Rafah crossing, he said.

WHO said another hospital in the north, Al-Awda, “was reportedly invaded” early Wednesday after days of siege, Dujarric said. And WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned in a social media post that access to health care throughout Gaza is shrinking and Kamal Adwan Hospital in the north is no longer functioning.

ISRAEL'S FOREIGN MINISTRY REPRIMANDS AMBASSADORS OF SPAIN, IRELAND AND NORWAY

JERUSALEM -- Israel’s Foreign Ministry has reprimanded the ambassadors of Spain, Ireland and Norway for their governments’ decisions to recognize a Palestinian state.

The Foreign Ministry said Thursday that the ambassadors were summoned to the ministry and shown a video of Hamas militants capturing five female soldiers during the Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war.

“The twisted decision by your governments is a prize to Hamas,” the ministry quoted its director general, Yaakov Blitshtein, as saying to them. “Hamas congratulates you.”

He also warned them that there would be additional repercussions for relations with the three European countries.

ISRAELI POLICE CLOSE JEWISH PILGRIMAGE SITE AHEAD OF FESTIVAL DUE TO SECURITY CORNCERNS

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli police have closed a Jewish pilgrimage site in northern Israel ahead of a major festival there over concerns that the area could be targeted by the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews, gather each year on the Jewish holiday of Lag BaOmer to honor Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a 2nd-century sage and mystic who is believed to be buried on Mount Meron. Large crowds, which can reach over 100,000, light bonfires, pray and dance as part of the celebrations, which this year were set for Saturday.

Since the start of the war in Gaza, Hezbollah has launched dozens of rockets and missiles toward Mount Meron and nearby Safed, which houses a major Israeli military base. Israel and Hezbollah have traded frequent attacks since the war began, most confined to the area around the border. Mount Meron is located around 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of the border with Lebanon.

Israel’s parliament passed an emergency law to shutter the pilgrimage site earlier this week, due to the Hezbollah threat. A small ceremony with about 30 people will take place instead of the large festival.

UNITED NATIONS' TOP COURT SAYS IT WILL RULE FRIDAY ON SOUTH AFRICA'S REQUEST FOR A CEASE-FIRE IN GAZA

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The United Nations’ top court says it will rule Friday on South Africa’s latest urgent request for the judges to order a cease-fire in Gaza.

South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Vusimuzi Madonsela, had urged the panel of 15 international judges to order Israel to “totally and unconditionally withdraw” from the Gaza Strip. Israel strongly denies charges of genocide, telling the International Court of Justice that it is doing everything it can to protect the civilian population during its military operation in Gaza.

It was the third time the International Court of Justice held hearings on the war in Gaza since South Africa filed proceedings in December at the court, based in The Hague in the Netherlands, accusing Israel of genocide.

The International Court of Justice said Thursday it will deliver its decision Friday afternoon at 1300 GMT, just days after the chief prosecutor at another Hague-based court, the International Criminal Court, announced he is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and three Hamas leaders on charges linked to the Gaza war.

A MISSILE SPLASHES INTO THE RED SEA IN LIKELY HOUTHI REBEL ATTACK, MISSING NEARBY VESSEL

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A missile splashed down in the waters of the Red Sea near the crucial Bab el-Mandeb Strait on Thursday, but caused no damage to a passing commercial vessel in an attack likely carried out by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center said.

The Houthis did not immediately claim the attack, though it can take hours or even days for them to acknowledge their assaults.

The Houthis have launched attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden in recent months, demanding that Israel ends the , which has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians there. The war began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking some 250 hostage.

The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, according to the United States Maritime Administration.

Shipping through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden has declined because of the threat. In recent weeks, the tempo of Houthi attacks has dropped, though the rebels have claimed shooting down U.S. surveillance drones.

12 PALESTINIANS KILLED IN ISRAEL'S 2-DAY WEST BANK OPERATION

TEL AVIV, Israel — The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians and wounded 25.

The military launched the operation Tuesday in the city of Jenin and an adjacent urban refugee camp as part of a crackdown against militants in the area. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group said its fighters battled the Israeli forces.

Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters: one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an armed offshoot of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party. Islamic Jihad group said an unspecified number of its fighters were killed.

Among those killed was a surgeon at a local hospital, according to Wissam Abu Baker, the director of Jenin Governmental Hospital. The surgeon was killed on his way to work, Abu Baker said.

The military did not immediately disclose additional details about the operation.

Jenin and the adjacent urban refugee camp have long been a bastion of armed struggle against Israel’s occupation, and the frequency of raids by Israeli troops has increased during the war in Gaza.

Violence has surged in the West Bank since the start of the war in Gaza. The Palestinian Health Ministry says more than 500 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since Oct. 7. Many were shot dead in armed clashes during military raids, others for throwing stones or explosives at troops. People not involved in the confrontations have also been killed.

ISRAELI STRIKE KILLS 1 AND INJURES 3 STUDENTS, LEBANON STATE NEWS AGENCY SAYS

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency says an Israeli drone strike killed one person and wounded three school students who were passing nearby in a bus.

The agency said the Thursday morning strike damaged the bus and destroyed a car on a road leading to the southern market town of Nabatiyeh. It said the wounded students were taken to hospitals in the area.

The man who was killed was identified as Mohammed Farran, whom Hezbollah identified as one of its members.

Israeli airstrikes have killed scores of Hezbollah members in recent months.

The exchange of fire between Hezbollah and Israel began a day after the Israel-Hamas war broke out on Oct. 7. Since then, more than 400 people have been killed in Lebanon. Most of the dead were fighters, but more than 70 were civilians and non-combatants.

News from © The Associated Press, 2024
The Associated Press

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