KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — The Israeli military raided Gaza’s largest hospital early Wednesday, conducting what it called a “precise and targeted operation against Hamas in a specified area” of the facility, which has been the site of a standoff with the ruling militant group.
Israeli authorities say the militants conceal military operations in the Al Shifa Hospital. But with hundreds of patients and medical personnel inside, the military has refrained from entering.
In recent weeks, Israeli defense forces have publicly warned that such use of the hospital “jeopardizes its protected status under international law,” the military said. On Tuesday, military officials conveyed again to Gaza authorities that all military activity in the hospital must cease within 12 hours.
“Unfortunately, it did not,” the military said.
Hamas has denied the Israeli accusations that it uses the hospital for cover.
Israeli military officials gave no further details but said they were taking steps to avoid harm to civilians.
The operation unfolded after the military seized broader control of northern Gaza on Tuesday, including capturing the territory’s legislature building and its police headquarters, in gains that carried high symbolic value in the country’s quest to crush Hamas.
Meanwhile, Israeli defense officials said they have agreed to allow some fuel shipments into the Gaza Strip for humanitarian operations. It was the first time that Israel has allowed fuel into the besieged territory since Hamas’ bloody cross-border invasion on Oct. 7.
Inside some of the captured buildings, soldiers held up the Israeli flag and military flags in celebration. In a nationally televised news conference, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Hamas had “lost control” of northern Gaza and that Israel made significant gains in Gaza City.
But asked about the time frame for the war, Gallant said: “We’re talking about long months, not a day or two.”
U.S. says evidence shows hospitals being used for Hamas activity.
The United States said Tuesday that it has unspecified intelligence that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad use some hospitals in the Gaza Strip — including Al Shifa hospital — and tunnels underneath them to hide and to support their military operations and to hold hostages.
The White House’s national security council spokesperson, John Kirby, said the U.S. does not support strikes against hospitals.
When asked about evidence to support the claim, Kirby said “it comes from a variety of intelligence sourcing.” He wouldn’t be more specific.