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Biden Urges Protection of Hospitals amid Israeli Actions

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US President Joe Biden has expressed apprehension over the situation unfolding in Gaza, specifically as Israeli tanks advanced toward Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s primary medical center. Biden stressed the critical need to safeguard hospitals in the Gaza Strip and called for Israel to undertake actions that are “less intrusive.” The Israeli military positioned tanks outside Al Shifa Hospital, asserting that the facility sits atop tunnels housing a Hamas headquarters—a claim vehemently denied by the group.

The armed wing of Hamas has signaled a willingness to release up to 70 women and children in Gaza in exchange for a five-day truce. The toll of the Israeli bombardment on Gaza has been devastating, with over 11,000 confirmed deaths reported by Gaza medical authorities, and approximately 40% of the casualties being children. This military campaign has also led to the displacement of around two-thirds of Gaza’s population.

Within the walls of Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza health ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qidra reported 32 patient deaths in the past three days, including three newborns. Israel claimed to initiate a humanitarian effort to transfer incubators to Al Shifa, but the hospital reported not receiving any. Currently, at least 650 patients remain inside Al Shifa Hospital, desperately seeking evacuation to another medical facility.

President Biden, in his first remarks on the recent events, emphasized the paramount importance of protecting hospitals. Israel contends that Hamas utilizes hospitals for military purposes, presenting alleged evidence of weapons stored in the basement of Rantissi Hospital.

As tensions rise, the armed wing of Hamas has proposed a ceasefire, offering the release of hostages in exchange. However, Israel’s response to a ceasefire remains skeptical, with the country allowing only brief humanitarian pauses for supply flows and foreign evacuation. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan expressed the desire for longer pauses in the context of a potential hostage release.

Amidst the ongoing conflict, another major hospital, al-Quds in northern Gaza, faced turmoil, ceasing operations. The Palestinian Red Crescent reported difficulties in evacuating patients and staff due to heavy gunfire. Israel claimed to have targeted terrorists at al-Quds in response to firing from the hospital entrance.

In the past day, Israel reported the elimination of several Hamas commanders, including Mohammed Khamis Dababash, described as the group’s former head of military intelligence. Simultaneously, Hamas media reported over 30 casualties in an Israeli airstrike on the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza—a claim the Israeli army is currently verifying.

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