Monday, February 26, 2024

Thousands flee Khan Younis as Israeli military surrounds southern Gaza city

Thousands of displaced Palestinians have fled Khan Younis in southern Gaza as the Israeli military announced it has surrounded the city amid further operations west of the area.

Photos show displaced people sitting on the side of streets and in the vicinity of the seashore. Videos also show cars, trucks, and tractors transporting families and their essential belongings, and crowds of people walking.

The Israeli military has announced its ground forces have “encircled” the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip after 24 of its soldiers were killed in the enclave in its largest single-day toll in the three-month war.

“Over the past day, troops carried out an extensive operation during which they encircled Khan Younis and deepened the operation in the area,” the military said in a statement on Tuesday, calling the city a stronghold of the Palestinian armed group Hamas.

Palestinian officials said at least 25,490 people have been killed and 63,000 wounded in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7.

Gaza’s Ministry of Health said Nasser Hospital and El Amal City Hospital in Khan Younis, among the few partially functioning hospitals in the territory, were under “extreme danger” from Israeli bombardment.

“The buildings of the Nasser Medical Complex are exposed to shrapnel, endangering the lives of patients, staff and displaced people,” the ministry wrote on its Telegram channel on Tuesday.

“The Israeli occupation places Nasser Medical Complex and El Amal Hospital in Khan Younis in extreme danger,” it added, calling for “urgent intervention” to safeguard both facilities.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society, which operates El Amal Hospital, on Tuesday said Israeli drones were targeting anyone moving around the facility.

It added its ambulances were unable to reach the injured and a civilian was killed by Israeli gunfire at the entrance of the hospital, noting “gunfire and repeated targeting of displaced individuals” in posts on X.

Leo Cans, the head of mission for Palestine with the international medical charity Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF), stated about 20 percent of healthcare workers were still working in Nasser Hospital with most having to flee for their own safety and that of their families.

“This is a strategy that has been used by the Israeli military to scare people, to terrorise the healthcare workers for them to leave without having to shut down the hospital,” Cans told Al Jazeera.

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