Israel faced growing calls on Saturday to shield civilians in Gaza as its fighting with Hamas encircled the region’s main hospital.
Large-scale explosions occurred during the night as Israeli and Hamas forces fought fiercely near Gaza’s main hospital, Al-Shifa.
A spokesman for the Gaza Health Ministry claimed that a fuel shortage was the reason the hospital’s operations were suspended, while an aid group described the situation as “catastrophic.”
According to the Hamas government and the hospital’s director, a Friday strike on the key health facility killed 13 people. Doctors Without Borders stated that it is “extremely concerned” about the safety of patients and medical staff at Al-Shifa hospital.
“Over the last few hours, the attacks against Al-Shifa Hospital have dramatically intensified,” it said in a statement on Saturday morning.
According to the Israeli military, Hamas militants who rampaged through southern Israel last month established command centers under Shifa hospital and others in Gaza, making them military targets.
Hamas has denied using civilians as human shields, and health officials say an increasing number of Israeli strikes on or near hospitals endangers patients, medical staff, and thousands of evacuees who have sought refuge in or near their facilities.
According to the UN’s humanitarian agency, 20 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are “no longer functioning.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has said Israel had the right to defend itself after last month’s Hamas attacks which killed 1,200 people and led to 239 hostages being taken.