Israeli tanks mass outside Gaza hospital, nuclear option condemned, fuel shortages hamper aid flows

Israeli tanks mass outside Gaza hospital

Israel’s tanks assembled at the gates of the main hospital in Gaza on Tuesday, with Joe Biden urging Israel to show restraint to protect the thousands of people stuck there. 

According to the UN, around 10,000 Palestinians, including patients, staff and people displaced by the war, are crowded onto the Al-Chifa Hospital site, though local officials say the number could be even more. 

“The situation is very serious, it’s inhumane,” warned Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on X.

Amid this dire situation, the US president – whose country is a key ally of Israel in its war against Hamas – said: “I hope and expect less intrusive actions regarding the hospital.”

“The hospital must be protected,” he added. 

This photo released by Dr. Marawan Abu Saada shows prematurely born Palestinian babies in Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023.

Clashes between Hamas fighters and Israeli soldiers have been concentrated around al-Chifa Hospital for days now, with Israel accusing Palestinian militants of using the sick and displaced as “human shields”.

Israel has, however, not provided concrete proof for its allegations.

Israeli army spokesperson Peter Lerner said overnight from Monday to Tuesday “the idea is to try to evacuate people, to evacuate as many as possible” from the hospital site. 

“We have no electricity, no food, no water in the hospital,” said an MSF doctor. “People will die in a few hours without working artificial respirators.” 

Gaza’s Deputy Health Minister, Youssef Abou Rich, told AFP on Monday that “seven premature babies” and “27 patients in intensive care” had died since Saturday at the hospital due to the lack of electricity in the area.

Israeli statement on nuclear option in Gaza condemned

China, many Arab nations and Iran condemned an Israeli minister’s statement that dropping a nuclear bomb could be an option in the country’s fight against Hamas. 

At Monday’s opening of a UN conference on establishing a nuclear-free Middle East, speaker after speaker said the Israeli statement posed a threat to the region and the wider world.

Condemnations were in response to comments by Israel’s Heritage Minister Amihai Eliyahu on the possible use of nuclear weapons in Gaza in a radio interview. 

His remarks were quickly disavowed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who suspended Eliyahu from cabinet meetings.

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Monday, Nov. 13, 2023.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied its nuclear capability. It is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons. A former employee at its nuclear reactor served 18 years in Israeli prison for leaking details and pictures of Israel’s alleged nuclear weapons programme to a British newspaper in 1986.

China’s deputy UN ambassador Geng Shuang said Beijing was “shocked” at what “Israeli officials said about the use of nuclear weapons in the Gaza Strip,” calling the statements “extremely irresponsible and disturbing”.

He stressed the statements run “counter to the international consensus that a nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought.” 

He urged Israeli officials to retract the statement and become a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament, “as soon as possible.”

Fuel shortage hampering aid delivery in Gaza – UN

The fuel crisis in Gaza is so dramatic that trucks filled with aid arriving through the Rafah crossing from Egypt won’t be unloaded starting Tuesday because there is no fuel for the forklifts, or for vehicles to deliver the food, water and medicine they’re carrying to those in desperate need, a senior UN humanitarian official has said.

Andrea De Domenico, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, said “lives in Gaza are hanging by a thread due to the bleeding of fuel and medical supplies.”

Since Israeli troops arrived in Gaza City centre five days ago, it has been too dangerous for the UN to coordinate any operation in the north, he added.

Palestinians line up for food during the ongoing Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in Rafah on Monday, November 13, 2023.

De Domenico said in a video press conference with UN correspondents from east Jerusalem that the intensified fighting over the weekend around Shifa hospital, the biggest in Gaza City, damaged critical infrastructure including water tanks, oxygen stations and the cardiovascular facility in the maternity ward. 

Three nurses were reported killed, he continued.

AdvertisementThe new Emirates Premium Economy has arrived on the latest Emirates A380 Emirates Get the best value from your summer holiday with exclusive offers and discounts across Dubai and the UAE with Emirates Pass