Gaza hospital in 'catastrophic' state after IDF raid to take terror suspects, as Biden urges Israel to protect civilians

16 February 2024, 08:07 | Updated: 16 February 2024, 09:15

Israel has launched a raid on a southern hospital
Israel has launched a raid on a southern hospital. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Kit Heren

A southern Gaza hospital has been left in a "catastrophic" condition amid an Israeli raid to capture terror suspects.

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The IDF said that its forces had taken "dozens" of terror suspects in a "precise and limited mission" at Nasser hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis.

Israel said it had received intelligence that the terrorists were in the hospital. Hamas said this was a lie.

The director of the hospital said the damage to the facility was "catastrophic and very dangerous". Doctors later said that four patients in intensive care had died after their oxygen was cut off during the raid.

It comes as Israel prepares to launch a ground raid on the southern city of Rafah. US president Joe Biden has tried to stop Israel from moving into Rafah without a "credible and executable" plan to protect the lives of civilians.

Read more: Israel should 'stop and think seriously' before continuing Rafah offensive says David Cameron

Read more: Heartwarming moment two hostages reunite with their family after Israeli rescue operation

Israeli helicopter flies over Khan Younis, Gaza Strip
Israeli helicopter flies over Khan Younis, Gaza Strip. Picture: Alamy

Over 28,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war in October, after Hamas' raid on Israel that killed 1,200 people.

Rafah is where Israel has previously urged civilians to go to avoid the danger from the conflict in the north of Gaza. Rafah has become the last point of refuge for around a million displaced civilians - around half of Gaza's entire population.

Israel has already targeted the southern city with airstrikes.

Israel's war aims are to eliminate Hamas and rescue the remaining hostages, of whom there are still over 100.

This picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Younis in the distance following Israeli bombardment on the southern Gaza Strip
This picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Younis in the distance following Israeli bombardment on the southern Gaza Strip. Picture: Getty

Mr Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the "urgency of ensuring that humanitarian assistance is able to get to Palestinian civilians in desperate need" in a call on Thursday.

It comes after British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said the UK was "very concerned about what is happening in Rafah because, let's be clear, the people there, many of whom have moved four, five, six times before getting there."

He added: "It really, we think, is impossible to see how you can fight a war amongst these people, there is nowhere for them to go.

"They can't go south into Egypt, they can't go north and back to their homes because many have been destroyed."

Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu. Picture: Getty

"So we are very concerned about the situation and we want Israel to stop and think seriously before it takes any further action," he added.

"But above all, what we want is an immediate pause in the fighting. We want that pause to lead to a ceasefire, a sustainable ceasefire without a return to further fighting. That is what should happen now.

"We need to get those hostages out, including the British nationals. We need to get the aid in. The best way to do that is to stop the fighting now and turn that into a permanent, sustainable ceasefire."

Mr Netanyahu said that his government would not be swayed by pressure from allies and backers in the war with Hamas.

Cameron says Israel should stop and think seriously before Rafah offensive

He wrote that "Israel rejects outright international dictates regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians."

Mr Netanyahu said that this kind of resolution can only come from negotiations.

Meanwhile an Israeli kibbutz said one of its residents who was kidnapped by Hamas has been pronounced dead.

Yair Yaakov, 59, was captured from his home in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7.

His partner, Meirav Tal, and two of his children, Yagil and Or, were also taken captive but released during a brief ceasefire in November.

The kibbutz said on Thursday that Mr Yaakov had been killed on October 7 and his body was being held in Gaza.

"He was energetic, loved life, and often enjoyed music with a cold beer. He was a loving father to his children," the kibbutz said.

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