Biden urges protection of Gaza hospital as conditions worsen

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GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories – Hundreds of people stranded in Gaza’s biggest hospital were enduring “inhuman” conditions on Monday while heavy fighting raged around them, a doctor inside said, as US President Joe Biden urged Israel to “protect” the facility.

Witnesses reported intense air strikes, with tanks and armoured vehicles just meters from the gate of Al Shifa hospital, under which Israel argues Hamas has buried its military headquarters – a charge denied by Hamas.

“The situation is very bad, it is inhuman,” a surgeon with Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the medical charity group, wrote on social media.

“We don’t have electricity. There’s no water in the hospital,” added the doctor, who was not named.

Mr Biden added to rising international pressure on Israel, urging the United States ally to use “less intrusive action relative to the hospital”.

“The hospital must be protected,” Mr Biden told reporters in the Oval Office when asked if he had expressed concerns to Israel on the issue.

The Israeli army has pushed on with its campaign, determined to destroy the Hamas movement whose gunmen it says killed at least 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took about 240 hostages when they stormed across the militarised border from Gaza.

Israel said 44 of its troops have been killed in the Gaza ground operation begun after the worst attack on Israel since its founding.

“Hamas has lost control of Gaza,” the territory it has ruled since 2007, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said in a statement broadcast on Israel’s main TV stations.

“Terrorists are fleeing southward. Civilians are looting Hamas bases,” Mr Gallant said on Israeli television without providing evidence.

But Israel is facing intense international calls to minimise civilian suffering during its massive air and ground operations that the Health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza say have killed 11,240 people, including 4,630 children.

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