Israeli forces order evacuation of Al-Shifa’ hospital, bomb schools in Gaza – Mondoweiss



  • 11,470 killed*, including 4,707 children, and more than 29,000 wounded in Gaza
  • More than 200 Palestinians killed and 2,750 injured in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
  • Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,200

*This figure covers the casualties from October 7 to November 16. Due to breakdowns in communication networks within the Gaza Strip (particularly in northern Gaza), the Gaza Ministry of Health has not been able to regularly update its tolls.

Key Developments

  • Israeli forces ordered the immediate evacuation of Al-Shifa’ hospital on Saturday morning — leaving only 120 patients in critical state and five doctors on the premises.
  • Civilians flee Al-Shifa’ carrying people in wheelchairs and gurneys, amid reports that Israeli forces barred men from entering southern Gaza.
  • Israeli forces reportedly took the bodies of 18 Palestinians from Al-Shifa’, with no information on their whereabouts.
  • An Israeli airstrike on al-Fakhura school in Jabalia refugee camp on Saturday has killed at least 50 people.
  • Scores of deadly Israeli airstrikes pummel Gaza schools, mosques, and homes, killing at least 26 in the southern town of Khan Younis.
  • Israel decides to allow two trucks’ worth of fuel a day into Gaza — a paltry amount that has nonetheless angered the government’s most extreme members.
  • Forty-eight Democrats send letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling on the White House to pressure Israel to let more fuel into Gaza.
  • The WHO says Gaza’s health system is “on its knees”.
  • Israeli media reports that Israeli army killed Vice President of the Palestinian Legislative Council Ahmed Bahr.
  • Fighting continues between Palestinian resistance groups and Israeli ground forces in northern Gaza and Gaza City.
  • In the West Bank, Israeli forces bombed the Fatah party headquarters in Balata refugee camp, killing five.
  • At least two other Palestinians die in the West Bank after being shot by Israeli forces, while armed confrontations continue in several areas of the occupied territory.
  • Palestinians raise the alarm about growing Israeli settler threat of takeover of Palestinian homes in the Old City’s Armenian Quarter in occupied East Jerusalem.
  • Hezbollah and other armed groups in Lebanon continue to trade fire with Israeli forces, as Lebanese media reports several wounded and an aluminum factory hit in southern Lebanon.
  • The International Criminal Court said on Friday that five countries had sent referrals requesting it investigate whether Israel’s actions in the wake of October 7 constituted crimes.
  • Israel’s Channel 12 says Hamas fighters who staged Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on October 7 most likely weren’t aware that a music festival was taking place in Reim. 
  • Saturday marks the first anniversary of the adoption of the Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas. U.N.’s Martin Griffiths says “there is no greater reminder of the importance of its universal endorsement and implementation” than the current situation in Palestine.
  • U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation calls on Israel to “stop using water as a weapon of war.”
  • Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi tells conference in Bahrain: “Israel says it wants to wipe out Hamas. There’s a lot of military people here, I just don’t understand how this objective can be realised.”
  • Thousands of Israelis, including opposition leader Yair Lapid, march to prime minister’s office in Jerusalem calling for the return of hostages held by Hamas.
  • Biden’s Middle East adviser Brett McGurk says humanitarian relief to Gaza hinges on release of Israeli hostages, as Qatari mediators were reportedly negotiating this week for the release of around 50 civilian hostages held by Palestinian resistance groups in exchange for a three-day ceasefire.
  • Despite numerous reports of Washington applying more pressure onto Israel in private, an Israeli official tells The Times of Israel that Tel Aviv doesn’t feel that the U.S. is closing its “window of support”.
  • Israeli army generals express concern over behavior of a number of soldiers in Gaza, including playing soccer and racing military vehicles. 

Al-Shifa’ hospital evacuated, Israeli forces reportedly stop Palestinians from fleeing south

Staff at Gaza City’s Al-Shifa’ hospital said that the Israeli army had called for the medical complex — which has been occupied by Israeli forces since Wednesday after days of siege — to be evacuated “within the hour” on Saturday morning, causing widespread panic among the estimated 7,000 medical staff, patients, and civilians who have taken refuge in the biggest medical complex of the Gaza Strip.

While the Israeli army Arabic spokesperson Avichay Adraee denied the report, Israeli forces have repeatedly called for Al-Shifa’ to be evacuated in past weeks, amid its unconvincing claims that the hospital sits above a Hamas command center. 

“I categorically deny these false allegations [from the Israeli army] … I am telling you we were forced to leave by gunpoint,” Director-General of hospitals in Gaza Mohammed Zaqout told Al Jazeera. An AFP journalist at Al-Shifa’ meanwhile reported that Israeli forces issued the call for evacuation over loudspeaker.

WAFA news agency reported that hundreds of people waving white flags, pushing wounded in wheelchairs and gurneys, left the hospital on foot towards southern Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee over the past 43 days.

But medical sources on the ground have said it is “impossible” to evacuate everyone from the hospital, and that 120 critically wounded or particularly fragile patients were left in the hospital, along with five doctors.

The hospital had notably been caring for 39 premature babies, whose incubators ran out of power last week. Munir al-Barsh, the general-director of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, said a fourth infant had died Friday, and that five of the remaining 35 babies were severely ill, amid lack of access to electricity, medical supplies, food, and safe drinking water. At least 24 patients at Al-Shifa’ have died in the past 24 hours.

Al-Bursh also accused Israeli forces on Friday of taking the bodies of at least 18 Palestinians — who had been left in the hospital courtyard for days as Israeli snipers prevented people from burying them — and took them to an unknown location

As of midday on Saturday, Al-Shifa’ director Mohammed Abu Salmiya told Al Jazeera that the hospital was almost completely deserted, with Israeli soldiers in “total control” of the medical complex.

Meanwhile, eyewitnesses told Al Jazeera that Israeli forces had set up a checkpoint on Salah el-Din Street, one of the two main roads used by Palestinians fleeing northern Gaza, and detained men, only allowing women and children to head south.

Deadly bombings hit Gaza schools, Israel allows tiny amounts of fuel in

As has been the case for more than 42 days, Israeli airstrikes have continued to pummel the tiny Gaza Strip — both in the north, where Israel has also been carrying out a ground invasion, but also in the south, where Israeli officials have repeatedly called on Palestinian civilians to evacuate for their “safety”.

The director of Al-Wafa hospital and elderly care home, was among those killed in an airstrike in the al-Zahra neighborhood of Gaza City.

In northern and central Gaza, including Gaza City, deadly airstrikes were reported in al-Qasasib, the UNRWA-run al-Fakhura and al-Falah schools, Beit Lahia, Deir al-Balah, Jabalia refugee camp, Nuseirat refugee camp, the Grand Mosque in al-Maghazi refugee camp, and in the vicinity of the Indonesian hospital.

Initial reports by Al Jazeera estimated that 50 people had been killed by the bombing of al-Fakhura school in Jabalia refugee camp. Another strike in Jabalia reportedly killed 32 people.

In southern Gaza, at least 26 people, many of them children, were killed by Israeli airstrikes on residential buildings in Khan Younis. A cultural center was also reported bombed in Rafah.

Due to the breakdown of communication services, particularly in northern Gaza, the Palestinian Ministry of Health says it has been facing “significant difficulties” in updating its data regarding death tolls for the past week. Numbers issued cannot take into account the full scope of devastation, as untold numbers of dead are unable to be retrieved from the rubble, whether due to the presence of Israeli ground forces in northern Gaza, or the lack of fuel and communication services affecting rescue teams’ ability to be on the scene quickly and with all necessary materiel.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces are now dropping their pretense of maintaining a “safe zone” in southern Gaza. “We are determined to keep moving forward. This will happen wherever Hamas is, which includes the southern Gaza Strip,” Army spokesman Daniel Hagari said on Friday. “It will happen at a time, place, and under conditions that are favorable to us.” The Financial Times quoted Israeli army Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi on Friday as saying that “as far as we are concerned, more and more regions [will be targeted].”

FT further reported that the Israeli army had dropped thousands of leaflets over some neighborhoods on Khan Younis telling people to evacuate their homes, claiming that it would set up a “safe zone” in a 14-square-kilometer area in southwest Gaza — a unilateral move that has already been rejected by the heads of all major U.N. humanitarian agencies.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said on Friday that “the current Israeli proposal for a so-called ‘safe zone’ is untenable: the zone is neither safe nor feasible for the number of people in need.”

Türk also hinted at the need for an international investigation against Israel, as the International Criminal Court said on Friday that five countries had sent referrals requesting it investigate whether Israel’s actions in the wake of October 7 constituted crimes.

“No-one is above the law. Breaches of international humanitarian law – even war crimes – committed by one party do not, ever, absolve the other from compliance with the principles of the law of war and their human rights obligations,” Türk said. “All serious allegations of multiple and profound breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law – whoever commits them – demand rigorous investigation and full accountability.”

“Where national authorities prove unwilling or unable to carry out such investigations, and where there are contested narratives on particularly significant incidents, international investigation is called for.”

The Gaza Strip was already one of the most densely populated places on earth before the mass displacement of 1.5 million of its 2.3 million inhabitants in the past 43 days. A number of Israeli officials have not hidden their desire to expel Palestinians from parts or all of Gaza altogether. A senior U.N. official told FT that they had warned the United States of “a Nakba 2”, in reference to the 750,000 Palestinians who were forcibly displaced in 1948.

“We do not believe the Israelis will allow those displaced from the north to go back,” the official said.

Telecommunications had partially returned to Gaza on Friday, after a limited amount of fuel was allowed in the Strip, the Palestinian Authority minister of telecommunications and information technology said. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted that this was the fourth communications blackout in Gaza since October 7, but the first caused by a lack of fuel.

Israel’s war cabinet decided on Friday to begin allowing two trucks of fuel a day into the besieged Gaza Strip starting on Saturday — only 2 to 4 percent of the amount that entered Gaza daily before the war, The Times of Israel reported.

The cabinet said the move would “enable the minimal maintenance necessary for water, sewer and sanitary systems to prevent pandemics that could spread to the entire area, hurting residents of the Strip as well as our own forces and potentially spreading into Israel as well.”

Mentioning pressure from the U.S. government, the statement added that the limited entry of fuel would also “offer Israel the necessary diplomatic maneuvering room to eliminate Hamas.”

Despite the self-interested reasoning put forward by the war cabinet, which includes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Minister without portfolio Benny Gantz, the decision has sparked outrage from among the most extreme members of Netanyahu’s far-right government.

“So long as our hostages don’t even get a visit from the Red Cross, there is no sense in giving the enemy humanitarian gifts,” the Times of Israel quoted National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir as saying.

These statements come as World Health Organization (WHO) representative in the Occupied Palestinian Territory Richard Peeperkorn said on Friday that Gaza’s health system was “on its knees” while faced with “endless need”. According to the WHO, 75 percent of hospitals in Gaza were non-functional as of Friday. The remaining 11 hospitals were only “partially operational and admitting patients with extremely limited services”.

Seven Palestinians killed in West Bank, East Jerusalem under threat

While most international attention has been focused on Gaza, violence continued to rage on in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, with Türk saying on Friday that he was “ringing the loudest possible alarm bell about the West Bank.”

An Israeli drone bombed the Fatah party headquarters in Balata refugee camp in the northern West Bank on Friday night, killing five Palestinians, identified at Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades commander Mohammed Zuhd, Mohammed al-Musaimi, Mohammed Hashash, Mohammed Mustafa, and Ali Faraj.

WAFA news agency reported that, following the airstrike, Israeli forces went on to blow up a home and destroy roads with a bulldozer in Balata.

At least one other Palestinian was killed in the occupied West Bank on Saturday morning, identified as Omar Shahrouri during an Israeli army raid in Tubas during which two other Palestinians were wounded.

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Jamal Mahmoud Masharqa from Jenin refugee camp succumbed on Friday to wounds he had sustained during an Israeli raid on November 9.

Confrontations between armed Palestinian resistance groups and Israeli forces were reported overnight in Balata, Tubas, Yabad, and Jericho.

Meanwhile, Palestinians were reported wounded by Israeli forces or Israeli settlers in Kafr Dan, Khirbet Tana, Dhahariya, Masafer Yatta, Burin, and Hebron. At least 38 Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces overnight across the West Bank

Israeli forces reportedly fired tear gas into a school in occupied East Jerusalem’s Issawiya neighborhood on Friday, attacking teachers and students and leaving at least three students with broken bones.

Israeli forces and settlers have meanwhile been escalating threats and violence against Palestinian residents of the Old City’s Armenian Quarter, in what has been described as an “existential threat” following a deal that could reportedly see 25 percent of the quarter sold to settlers, in violation of international law.

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