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At least 12 people were killed and dozens wounded in an attack on a hospital in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday morning as fighting escalated around it, according to two hospital staff members and the Gazan health ministry, which blamed Israel for the strike.
The Indonesian Hospital was hit around 2:30 a.m. after Israeli tanks drew closer to the compound amid constant shelling and gunfire, according to a nurse and a hospital administrator. The precise source of the strike could not be independently verified.
Recent videoshot in the area and geolocated by The New York Times showed several Israeli tanks within a few hundred yards of the hospital and moving toward it. The two staff members said on Monday that the second floor of the hospital, where dozens of patients and displaced people were sleeping, was hit by artillery fire, and that medical workers were unable to move the dead bodies as fighting continued outside.
“There was chaos, darkness and fire in the department, which made it very difficult to evacuate the dead and wounded,” said Mohamad, the nurse. He and the hospital administrator asked that their full names not be used because they feared for their safety.
Video shot byPalestinian journalists and verified by The New York Times showed a scene of devastation within a ward of the hospital on Monday, with bodies and wreckage sprawled across the floor, and debris hanging from the ceiling.A video madeon Sunday showed the same interior intact.
At least 500 patients and thousands of displaced people were inside the building when the attack happened, the administrator said. “It’s possible that what happened at Al-Shifa Hospital will also happen to us,” he added, referring to Gaza’s largest hospital, which was raided by Israeli forces last week.
The Israeli military said that its forces had come under fire overnight “from within the Indonesian Hospital,” and that it “directly targeted the specific source of enemy fire” in response. “No shells were fired toward the hospital,” the military said in a statement.
Since invading Gaza more than three weeks ago, the Israeli military hassteadily surrounded several hospitalsin northern Gaza. Israel says that Hamas, the armed group that rules Gaza and launched the devastating Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, has concealed bases inside hospitals, andit has begun releasing videostaken by its forces searching Al-Shifa that it says support its assertion.
Proof of an extensive Hamas command center under Al-Shifa has yet to be revealed. The group has denied Israeli accusations that it uses civilian infrastructure and says Israel is committing war crimes by targeting hospitals.
As they close in on the Indonesian Hospital, Israeli forces have been strengthening their hold over northern Gaza.
Artillery and gunfire have been heard for several days near the Indonesian Hospital, which is in the far northern city of Beit Lahia, and Israeli tanks drew closer to the building on Sunday evening hours before the strike, the administrator said.
After the strike and just before sunrise, dozens of people, including Mohamad, were able to leave in a panic “amid shelling and gunfire,” he said.
The Gazan health ministry said 500 injured people had been transferred from the hospital to Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, but it was not clear over what period of time.
A videoposted early Monday by a man who had been sharing videos from the hospital for days showed him running out of the hospital compound with others as gunshots rang out. The Times verified that the video was taken at the hospital.
The administrator stayed behind with hundreds of others, including patients on ventilators and in critical condition. “Evacuating them would be very complicated” without coordination with humanitarian organizations and the Israeli military, he said.
The health ministry said in a statement that it was in touch with the International Committee of the Red Cross about a possible evacuation of the wounded. The aid organization said in a statement to The Times that any evacuation would be “extremely complex.”
The head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,saidon social media that the organization was “appalled” at the reports of the attack, adding: “Health workers and civilians should never have to be exposed to such horror, and especially while inside a hospital.”
Twenty-eight premature babies who had been in intensive care at the embattled Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza were transported across the border to Egypt for medical care on Monday, according to the United Nations and an Egyptian state television network, Al Qahera News. But five others who had been cared for at the hospital died before they could be evacuated.
The babies had become a symbol of civilian suffering at the hospital, which was surrounded by Israeli forces last week andthen raided. They were taken from there on Sunday to the southern city of Rafah, site of the territory’s only functioning border crossing.
“The Palestine Red Crescent ambulance teams departed from in front of the Emirati Hospital in Rafah to transport 28 premature infants to the Rafah Crossing, in preparation for their transfer to receive medical treatment in Egyptian hospitals,”the Red Crescent said on X, formerly Twitter. Al Qahera News later reported that the ambulances had crossed the border.
One mother, Ayat Al Daour, was reunited with her twin daughters, Mera and Dahab, at the Emirati Hospital on Monday, before they were transferred to Egypt. She said she gave birth at Al-Shifa five days into the fighting and was soon released — but without her daughters. She had not seen them for 39 days.
After being discharged, Ms. Al Daour said, she fled her home for a refugee camp in Gaza City, then heeded warnings about the danger there and headed south — all the while unable to communicate with medical workers at Al-Shifa. Hearing news reports that the babies had been moved to Emirati Hospital, she walked hours to the hospital and finally saw her girls alive and well, she said.
“When they were saying a premature baby died on the news, I could not know whether that was my baby or not,” she said.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which helped organize the evacuation, said on social media that five babies “hadalready dieddue to lack of electricity and fuel” at Al-Shifa. Israel imposed a siege on Gaza that has largely blocked supplies of fuel, food and water after the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas that killed around 1,200 people in Israel.
The W.H.O., which is a United Nations agency, said in a statement on Sunday that 11 of the babies were in critical condition and that all were fighting serious infections.
UNICEF, which said it had participated in the “extremely dangerous” evacuation effort, said the conditions of the babies had been “rapidly deteriorating.” It added that the babies had been moved to Rafah in temperature-controlled incubators.
The Israeli military said in a statement it had helped to facilitate the evacuation from the pediatric ward andprovided incubatorsto Al-Shifa. It was not clear whether those were the incubators used to transport the babies.
The W.H.O.’s director general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, posteda photograph on Xof a staff member in a blue United Nations helmet and bulletproof vest scooping up a tiny infant. The babies, along with six health care workers and 10 family members of hospital employees, were evacuated “under extremely intense and high-risk security conditions,” he wrote.
The authorities in Israel have said it has evidence that Hamas had a headquarters underneath Al-Shifa, something Hamas as well as doctors there deny.
Israel’spush to seizeAl-Shifa last week set off a struggle to survive there. Doctors and health officials warned that nearly 40 premature babies were at particular risk. Some had been born to mothers who had been killed in airstrikes or who died shortly after giving birth, doctors at Al-Shifa have said. Some were the only survivors in their families.
Yemen’s Houthi militiareleased a videoon Monday showing its forces hijacking the ship Galaxy Leader, a day after announcing it hadseized the vesselin the Red Sea as a demonstration of support for “the oppressed Palestinian people.”
The video, whose authenticity was verified by The New York Times, shows at least 10 armed men on the deck of the roughly 600-foot-long vessel after jumping out of a military helicopter hovering just above it.
Most of the video appears to come from cameras attached to men’s heads, and follows them as they seize control of the bridge from crew members. A later section of the video, taken from a distance, shows a handful of small boats — of a type known to be used by Houthi rebels — moving around and alongside the ship. One flies a Yemeni flag used by the Houthis as well as a Palestinian flag; the same flags are by this point flying on the Galaxy Leader.
The whereabouts of the Galaxy Leader has been unknown since Saturday, when its last received location signal showed it in the Red Sea, between Saudi Arabia and Sudan. But the new video contains clues about when and where the vessel was hijacked.
A clock on the wall of the Galaxy Leader’s bridge in the video shows a time of just after 1 p.m. Additionally, a navigational computer display shows the ship had traveled almost three quarters of the way down Yemen’s coast. The evidence suggests that Houthi fighters took over the vessel when it was within quick and easy striking distance of Yemen’s coast, rather than farther north in the middle of the Red Sea.
A Times analysis of a satellite image captured on Sunday morning local time — hours before the time shown on the bridge clock — offers further evidence that the Galaxy Leader had traveled several hundred miles beyond its last known location. In the image, a ship whose visual characteristics and dimensions show it to be the Galaxy Leader is seen transiting the Red Sea near the Zubair group of Yemeni islands. The satellite image was likely captured just hours before the hijacking. Samir Madani, co-founder of TankerTrackers.com, which monitors global shipping, first spotted the ship in the image.
Hours before the hijacking, the Houthi militia had threatened to target Israeli-flagged, owned and operated ships traversing the Red Sea. Israel’s military said the ship was en route to India from Turkey and had an “international crew, without Israelis.” The vessel, which is listed as a vehicle carrier, is British-owned and operated by a Japanese company.
The company’s beneficial owner — meaning the person who exercises control over it, owns more than a quarter of it or receives substantial economic benefit from it — appears to have at some point been an Israeli billionaire, Rami Ungar, according to the Paradise Papers,a major leak of confidential documentsthat in 2017 exposed a hidden world of wealth and ownership.
A correction was made on
Nov. 20, 2023
An earlier version of this article misstated the location of the Galaxy Leader in a satellite image captured on Sunday. The location was near the Zubair group of Yemeni islands, not the Hanish islands.
As Israel and Hamas engage in indirect negotiations over the release of some 240 hostages taken in the armed group’s attacks on Oct. 7, the outlines of a possible deal are taking shape, officials say, although stumbling blocks remain.
After weeks of talks, facilitated in part by Qatar, President Biden’s deputy national security adviser, Jon Finer,said Sundaythat Israel and Hamas were close to a deal but warned that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” and that the fragile negotiations could still fall apart.
Here’s what we know about the status of the negotiations:
Talks are coalescing around a brief pause in fighting.During the pause, hostages would be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners. Israeli officials said in recent days that negotiations centered around Hamasreleasing 50 women and children held hostagein exchange for roughly the same number of Palestinian women and teenagers held in Israeli prisons — and pausing hostilities for several days. One Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks, said there’s still disagreement over the length of any pause and how many hostages would be released for how many prisoners.
What Israel wants:The Israeli government has publicly taken a hard line on the hostages, saying repeatedly that there will be no cease-fire until the captives are released. The talks behind closed doors, though, suggest there might be wiggle room. The Israeli official said that phased exchanges have been proffered in the negotiations but that some in the Israeli government want all the hostages to be released at once.
What Hamas wants:Hamas has said it is seeking a full cease-fire and the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. It also hasadded a new conditionfor releasing civilian hostages: The delivery of fuel to Gaza’s collapsing hospitals. Israel has allowed some fuel into Gaza in recent days for United Nations relief operations, but has opposed more shipments because it argues they could be diverted by Hamas for military use.
Sticking points remain, but the time may be right for an agreement.The Israeli official said that any deal would require a government vote, and some right-wing Israeli politicians have suggested they will oppose any agreement with Hamas. Israel believes that by taking Al-Shifa Hospital, which it saysHamas uses as a military command centerand its patients as human shields, the militant group is deprived of a key asset and more inclined to trade hostages, officials have said. The Israeli government is also under pressure from relatives of the hostages, who aredemanding swift actionto free their loved ones.
Israel’s military on Sunday released video of what it said was a 55-meter section of a fortified tunnel running 10 meters beneath the Shifa Hospital complex in Gaza City, seeking to bolster its allegations that Hamas has used the largest medical center in the Palestinian enclave as a base for its military operations.
The military released two videos,one of whichappeared to have been filmed by a drone and shows parts of a metal spiral staircase. Alonger video, which appeared to have been recorded by a robot or a camera carried by an animal, starts out above ground and shows the descent to a cloister-like tunnel with utility cables along one wall that leads to what Israeli officials described as a blastproof door.
The door had a firing hole in it, the military said, adding that such doors are used by Hamas “to block Israeli forces from entering the command centers and the underground assets belonging to Hamas.”
The New York Times verified that both videos were recorded at Al-Shifa Hospital, which Israeli forces stormed last week.
Hamas has denied Israeli accusations that it uses civilian infrastructure, including residential buildings, mosques and hospitals, to hide its military fortifications and command centers. The group says Israel is committing war crimes by targeting civilian centers.
The Israeli military also released videos later Sunday that it said showed two hostages being taken inside the hospital on Oct. 7, when Hamas launched a cross-border attack from Gaza. They provide further evidence, Israeli officials said, that Hamas has used the hospital area for military operations.
Israeli officials said that the second set of videos — which appeared to be from cameras mounted inside the hospital — were recorded hours after the Hamas raid into Israel and that they showed two hostages, one Thai and one Nepali, being escorted by armed fighters. The officials said they had no idea where the two hostages are now.
The Times verified the location of the footage as Al-Shifa, but not the identities of those shown or the time stamps on the videos.
Gaza’s Health Ministry said in a statement that the authenticity of the videos could not be verified, and took the opportunity to renew its criticism of Israel over a blockade that has led to a collapse of health services in the enclave to the deaths of hundreds of sick and injured.
“Given what the Israeli occupation reported, this confirms that the hospitals of the Ministry of Health provide their medical services to everyone who deserves them, regardless of their gender and race,” the ministry said.
The videos were released on the fifth day of the military’s operation inside the Shifa Hospital compound.
Earlier, on Friday, the Israeli militaryescorted journalists from The New York Timesthrough a landscape of wartime destruction to a stone-and-concrete shaft on the grounds of Al-Shifa, close to a perimeter wall. It was the same shaft that appeared in the videos released on Sunday.
The military said it was still working with the Shin Bet security agency to uncover the rest of the tunnel, but it said the findings so far were evidence of “the cynical manner” in which Hamas uses the residents of Gaza as human shields. That assertion is central to Israel’s defense of the heavy death toll caused by its military campaign in Gaza, where more than 12,000 people have been killed since Oct. 7, according to health officials in the Hamas-run enclave.
Israel bombarded Gaza with airstrikes and subsequently launched a ground invasion of the territory in response the surprise Hamas attack on southern Israel in which about 1,200 people were killed and about 240 people were abducted and taken into Gaza. The vast majority of those killed or taken hostage are civilians.
The Israeli military has also displayed some weaponry it says it found in various parts of the Shifa compound, as well as a white Toyota pickup truck of the type used by many Hamas commandos who breached the border with Israel on Oct. 7.
But proof of an extensive Hamas command center under the hospital has yet to be revealed. The military says it has to move slowly and cautiously, lest the tunnels be booby-trapped. It said it was seeking ways to expose and destroy them without bringing down the hospital, where some 300 patients and medical staff remain in dire conditions.
On Monday, the Israeli military said that it had apprehended more than 300 operatives of armed groups in Gaza since the ground invasion began in late October. In a statement, the military said the detainees had been brought into Israel for further interrogation and have yielded valuable information, including the locations of tunnels and weapons stores.
A group of foreign ministers from Arab and Muslim-majority countries met with China’s foreign minister in Beijing on Monday on the first stop of a tour aimed at building support to end the war in the Gaza Strip.
It was unclear how the ministers’ tour may affect that conflict. China, unlike the United States, has little leverage over Israel, which has voiced “deep disappointment” over Beijing’s relatively muted reaction to Hamas’s attack in southern Israel on Oct. 7. Hamas gunmen killed about 1,200 people and took more than 200 hostage in the attack, according to Israeli authorities.
Six weeks after the assault, there is growing international pressure on Israel to pause fighting in Gaza to allow for more aid to enter the enclave. Israel’s staunchest allies, including the United States, have urged the nation to do more to protect civilians. So far, Israel’s military campaign has killed more than 12,000 people in Gaza, according to health authorities there.
After Beijing, the group will travel to “a number of capitals,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, told journalists in Manama, Bahrain,on Saturday. Their goal is to “deliver a clear message that there needs to be an immediate cease-fire and that humanitarian aid needs to enter Gaza immediately,” he said. “We need to work to end this crisis and end this war being waged on Gaza as soon as possible.”
On Monday, the delegation met with China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, China’sstate-run broadcaster reported. The delegation’s talks in Beijing aimed to achieve “thoroughgoing communication and coordination to promote a cooling of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict, protection of civilians and a just resolution of the Palestinian issue,” the report said.
The delegation included officials from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia and the Palestinian Authority, China’s foreign ministry said on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have attempted to deliver their message to the United States, Israel’s main international backer. But senior Israeli and American officials have continued to reject calls for an unconditional cease-fire with Hamas. Instead, they have said that in order to institute “humanitarian pauses” — brief halts in the fighting — Hamas must release the more than 200 people it took captive during the attacks.
On Monday, President Xi Jinping of China sought to find common ground with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, in a phone call that included discussion of the fighting in Gaza. Theofficial Chinese summaryof their conversation issued by the Xinhua news agency said: “The two leaders agreed that it is imperative to avoid a further worsening of the Palestinian-Israeli situation, and in particular avoid the emergence of an even more serious humanitarian crisis.”
“My experience during childbirth was a nightmare in every sense of the word, or something like a horror film,” said 29-year-old Wajiha al-Abyad.
Her contractions started at around 9 p.m. on Oct. 29. “We called for an ambulance, but they told us they couldn’t come. The streets were empty and pitch-black, and there was no sound to be heard except for the noise of planes and shelling.”
After about 40 minutes, an ambulance did turn up. It transported her at high speed through Deir Al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip. “Most of the streets were badly damaged. I was stuck inside contending with contractions and jolts as the ambulance raced through ruined roads.”
Women, children and newborns in Gaza are disproportionately bearing the burden of the war, both as casualties and in reduced access to health care services. The U.N. estimates there are around 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza, and that more than 160 babies are delivered every day.
In the space of a few weeks, Ms. al-Abyad’s life had been turned upside down. She fled her home in Gaza City with many of her relatives on Oct. 14, after the Israeli military ordered over a million people to leave northern Gaza. She dreaded the idea of giving birth in these circumstances. “The tension and anxiety I felt were more painful than the contractions,” she said.
Since the outbreak of the war, crossings into Gaza had been closed, making it impossible for her husband in the United Arab Emirates to be by her side. Instead, her mother joined her in the ambulance.
Together, they made it to Al-Awda Hospital in Nuseirat, around a 20-minute drive from their home. They found the hospital’s maternity ward was no longer functioning: It had been repurposed to treat the large numbers of war casualties.
“There was a lot of tension and screaming, and the doctors were under extreme pressure,” Ms. al-Abyad said. “Patients there were bleeding, and they didn’t know what to do for them.”
Less than an hour later, Ms. al-Abyad gave birth to a baby boy named Ahmed. “Every five minutes, there was shelling right outside the hospital, so close that mothers would hide their newborn babies under their clothes, afraid that the windows might shatter and the glass would fall onto them,” she said.
“All I could think about was how will I leave? How will I go back home?”
Early the next morning, mere hours after giving birth, she left the hospital with her mother and newborn son. They walked through the streets for over three hours before she was finally able to flag down a car. “I was just praying that we would reach our destination,” she said.
Palestinian health officials say more than 3,300 women and 5,000 children have been killed since the war in Gaza began. The territory has been under siege since Hamas led attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7 that killed around 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials.
The bombardment, massive levels of displacement, collapsing water and electricity supplies — as well as restricted access to food and medicines — are severely disrupting maternal, newborn, and child health care. About two-thirds of the Gaza Strip’s hospitals and primary care clinics are no longer functioning, according to the U.N. For weeks, Gazan Health Ministry officials have been warning of the health care system’s collapse.
“The last time I was able to check on my baby’s health was a month before the war started,” said 24-year-old Noor Hammad, who is seven months pregnant. “I’m very concerned that I might lose my baby.”
Ms. Hammad worked as a nutritionist before the war broke out. She fled her home in Deir Al-Balah after her apartment was bombed, and now works as a volunteer nurse at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis for six hours a day. Like many Palestinians in Gaza, she’s drinking dirty water and eating small amounts of processed canned food to survive. And she is worried about the consequences for her unborn child.
“These meals don’t have any nutritional value for me or my baby,” she says.
After giving birth, Ms. al-Abyad and her son Ahmed finally made it back to the apartment in Deir Al-Balah where they are staying with her mother, her 3-year-old son Taim, as well as her siblings, aunt and cousins — around 20 people in total. She says that, right now, Gaza is no place to raise a newborn.
“We’re trying to get out of Gaza any way we can,” she said. “I want to be in a place that’s safer, where there’s electricity, water and food. A place where children are respected.”