Gaza health crisis deepens as Israeli strikes continue
By Matthew Rosenberg and Nadav Gavrielov
With just eight aid trucks making it into the Gaza Strip overnight and hospitals increasingly overwhelmed, the humanitarian crisis in the besieged enclave deepened Wednesday as Israel said it had conducted “wide-scale” strikes and again warned Palestinians in Gaza to flee south before a possible invasion.
The World Health Organization said Wednesday that 12 of Gaza’s 35 hospitals were not functioning and that seven major hospitals were well over capacity, risking patient safety. European Union leaders scheduled to meet in Brussels on Thursday were set to ask for a “humanitarian pause” to facilitate aid deliveries.
Twenty aid trucks had been due to cross into Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt overnight but just eight made it through, the Palestinian Red Crescent and a spokesperson for the Palestinian side of the crossing said. Israel was still inspecting the remaining 12 trucks, according to a local Egyptian official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Israel has wanted to inspect trucks to ensure weapons for Hamas are not embedded in the aid.
The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza raised the death toll in Israeli strikes since Oct. 7 to more than 6,500 people. Its figures could not be independently verified. More than 1,400 people were killed in the Hamas-led terror attack in southern Israel on Oct. 7.
Here is what else to know:
— Among the targets of Israel’s latest airstrikes was a Hamas group responsible for blockages that have prevented people in Gaza from moving to the southern part of the territory, the Israeli military said. Even as Israel calls on people to flee south for their safety, it has continued to hit the south with airstrikes, according to Palestinian officials. Hamas has acknowledged encouraging civilians to reject Israel’s demand to flee their homes, but said it had not put up barricades to force them to stay.
— The potential for the war to spread remained. The Israeli military said Wednesday that an area near the Golan Heights was targeted by attacks that originated in Syria, and that it responded with artillery fire. Israel also said its soldiers had clashed with armed Palestinians overnight in the area of Jenin in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
— President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who has often been at odds with his Western allies including the United States, said Hamas was “not a terror organization” but a group “who fight to protect their land and citizens.” While adding that he did not “excuse any acts targeting civilians, including Israeli civilians,” the Turkish president condemned what he called Israel’s brutality against Palestinians.
— U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday they now had “high confidence” that the blast at al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City last week was the result of a Palestinian rocket that broke up midflight, and that no Israeli weapon was involved in the explosion. A separate New York Times analysis found that a widely cited missile video, which has been used to make the case that Israel did not bomb the hospital, does not shed light on what happened.