Chairman and Chief Editor
Bedour Ibrahim

Some 351 cancer patients in Gaza will travel to Turkey to resume treatment

Focus Turns to Gaza’s South in Next Stage of War

Sunday 19/November/2023 - 04:25 PM
أصول مصر

Israel said it was entering the “next stage” of the six-week-old war against Hamas as focus shifted to the south of the besieged Gaza Strip. Separately، Israeli paratroopers raided what were called the homes of senior Hamas officials in northern Gaza. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wouldn’t say if he believed top Hamas leaders were now hiding around the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis. “We’ll get to them،” he told reporters، describing the leadership as “dead men walking.” About 2،500 internally displaced persons، along with patients and staff، on Saturday vacated northern Gaza’s Al Shifa Hospital، the focus of Israel’s ground offensive for the past week، a United Nations agency said. 

Israel’s army said it launched strikes against both Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah across its northern border in Lebanon early Sunday. Meanwhile، Hamas — designated a terror organization by the US and European Union — said it had lost contact with groups assigned to guard some of the hostages it seized on Oct. 7. 

Humanitarian services

Gaza needs 160،000 liters of fuel daily to maintain “a reasonable level of humanitarian services،” said Adnan Abu Hassna، United Nations Relief and Works Agency spokesman. “If we receive the fuel، it is absolutely impossible for any Palestinian political or non-political faction to access any portion of this fuel،” he added.

The fuel is needed for water desalination، sewage treatment plants، wells and hospitals، as well as hundreds of vehicles for UNRWA’s operations. Israel said it would allow entry of nearly 70،000 liters of fuel per day، according to OCHA. 

Some 351 cancer patients in Gaza will travel to Turkey to resume treatment، the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said. 

The patients had been receiving treatment at the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital، the only oncology hospital in Gaza، which was shut down shortly after the start of Israel’s ground assault.  

Meanwhile، the Palestine Red Crescent Society said it evacuated 31 premature babies from Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza in coordination with the World Health Organization and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. They’ll be transferred to a UAE-run hospital in the Egyptian border city of Rafah. 

Iran’s Supreme Leader urged Muslim countries to cut off diplomatic ties with Israel “at least for a limited time.” 

“Some Muslim states have ostensibly condemned Israel in conventions and some haven’t، but this is unacceptable،” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday، according to his Telegram account. “The principal task is to cut off Israel’s lifelines، and Muslim governments must stop the supply of energy and goods to this regime.”

Iran's capabilities

Khamenei spoke at a military exhibition in Tehran، where the country showcased drones as well as an upgraded model of the “Fatah” hypersonic missile. 

Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said there’s been “good progress” in the past few days on reaching an agreement between Israel and Hamas to release hostages. 

Al Thani، who’s also the foreign minister، said he’s “more confident” about sealing a deal، with the remaining challenges “practical and logistical.” He spoke at a joint press conference with European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell. 

Israeli paratroopers and other forces operated in the Sheikh Ijlin and Rimal areas of northern Gaza “in order to identify and destroy Hamas infrastructure and assets،” the defense force said in an operational update.  

“The soldiers located approximately 35 tunnel shafts as well as a large number of weapons and eliminated terrorists،” according to the update. “Embedded in the Rimal area are the residences of senior Hamas officials.”

The troops also located a military base belonging to Hamas’s military intelligence unit، as well as ammunition depots and seven rocket launchers. Israel’s claims can’t be independently verified.

Houthi rebels in Yemen said they’d target ships carrying the Israeli flag as well as those operated by or belonging to Israeli companies. It’s the latest threat from the Iran-backed fighters in a country that overlooks the Red Sea، a key global shipping route.

A Houthi spokesman، posting on X، formerly Twitter، called on other countries to withdraw citizens working on Israeli vessels and stay away from such ships.

Israel’s air، sea and land forces fought enemies on two fronts early Sunday، destroying infrastructure belonging to Hezbollah in Lebanon and that of Hamas in Gaza، the military said.

Air-raid sirens blared in Israel’s southern and northern towns، while mortar shell launches from Lebanon fell in open areas. Hezbollah said it attacked two Israeli sites، the Iran-backed militant group’s Al Manar TV reported.

The release of hostages

The US said there is no agreement yet between Israel and Hamas on the release of hostages after the Washington Post said a tentative one had been reached to free dozens of women and children held in Gaza in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting.

“No deal yet but we continue to work hard to get a deal،” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in response to the report of a US-brokered agreement.

Some 2،500 internally displaced persons، along with patients and staff، vacated Gaza’s Al Shifa Hospital on Nov. 18، the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said. That followed orders from Israel’s military، which continued its operations within the compound for a fourth consecutive day، OCHA said.

About 123،000 liters of fuel entered Gaza from Egypt on Nov. 18، according to the UN agency. Israel said it would allow entry of nearly 70،000 liters of fuel per day، which “is well below the minimum requirements for essential humanitarian operations،” according to OCHA.

Al Shifa hospital is a “death zone” and “desperate،” according to a UN team allowed to visit Gaza’s largest hospital، and team members saw a mass grave near the entrance holding possibly 80 bodies. The team، led by the World Health Organization، was allowed one hour at the hospital facilitated by the Israeli military، the group said in a press release.

Though the team said Al Shifa was “essentially” no longer operating as a hospital، there remain 291 patients، including 32 babies “in extremely critical condition.” The “vast majority” of patients were suffering war wounds، including amputations، burns and spinal trauma، WHO said. 

“WHO and partners are urgently developing plans for the immediate evacuation of the remaining patients، staff and their families” and are seeking safe passage in coming days to transport the sick to two other hospitals، the group said.  

Israel said it’s entering the “next stage” of its war against Hamas، as attention turns from the rubble of Gaza City to the city of Khan Younis in the south. Prime Minister Netanyahu، at a news conference، wouldn’t say if he believed top Hamas leaders are hiding there. “We’ll get to them،” he said. “All Hamas leaders are dead men walking.”

“The places where Hamas can circulate are shrinking،” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said at the news conference of Israel’s war cabinet. “Whoever was on the western side of the city understands that well — they’ve already met the deadly power of the IDF. Those on the eastern side are understanding that tonight and will understand it more in the next few days.”

Leaving the city

In recent days Israel has dropped leaflets in Khan Younis — the hometown of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar — warning residents to leave the city for a safe zone in the south of the strip where humanitarian aid is available. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have moved to the safe zone since the war began، defying Hamas efforts to prevent them from fleeing the battle zone.