‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 29: Israel Hits Hospitals, Ambulances, and Schools Across Gaza

PALESTINE - ISRAEL, 6 Nov 2023

Mondoweiss Palestine Bureau - TRANSCEND Media Service

Palestinian children hold a candlelight vigil at Al-Shifa’ Hospital in Gaza City, 3 Nov 2023  (Photo: by Saeed Jaras/APA Images)

5 Nov 2023 – Israel targeted an ambulance convoy at al-Shifa hospital, while other schools and hospitals were targeted as Israel doubles down on lifesaving civilian infrastructure. Meanwhile, Palestinian workers from Gaza return, recounting torture.

Casualties

  • 9,448 Palestinians killed, including 3,900 children, and 24,158 wounded in Gaza
  • 145 Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem

Key Developments

  • Israel claims attack on ambulance convoy at al-Shifa hospital, killing at least 15 people.
  • Israeli forces bomb at least one other hospital and an UNRWA school where thousands had taken shelter, as UNRWA warns that UN flag “cannot even provide [Palestinians] safety.”
  • Thousands of Palestinians workers who were arbitrarily detained after October 7 are deported back to Gaza, and recount violent beatings, interrogation, and imprisonment.
  • ‘Alarming’ Israeli army and settler violence continues in the occupied West Bank, as at least one Palestinian teenager is killed.
  • Several Arab states hold a meeting in Jordan on Saturday, set to meet with U.S. envoy.
  • Honduras recalls its ambassador to Israel over its “genocide” in Gaza.
  • Pro-Palestine activists prevent U.S. military ship believed to be headed to Israel from leaving Oakland, California port.
  • National March on Washington, D.C. scheduled for Saturday to call for a ceasefire in Gaza

Gaza hospitals, schools, mosques, and water tanks — nowhere is safe

Israel’s brutal bombardment of Gaza somehow reached further lows nearly a month on, as the army attacked an ambulance convoy outside al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on Friday, killing 15 people and injuring 60, the Gaza Ministry of Health said. One of those killed has been identified as journalist Haitham Hararah.

The ambulances were due to transfer a number of injured people through to the Rafah crossing to receive medical treatment in Egypt. While 28 people were due to enter Egypt on Friday, 11 of them were blocked from leaving Gaza because of the attack on al-Shifa.

Unlike some other attacks on medical facilities, the Israeli army promptly claimed responsibility for the airstrike, claiming that the ambulances were used by Hamas — an allegation that the Gaza Ministry of Health forcefully rejected, noting that at least 27 ambulances, and 105 health institutions have been targeted by Israel in the past four weeks. Some 150 health personnel have been killed, while 16 hospitals and 32 primary care centers have been put out of service by airstrikes and dire fuel shortages, it added.

“We affirm that the heinous crime committed by the Israeli occupation, with premeditation and deliberation, and accompanied by the Israeli occupation’s explicit admission of its commission, constitutes a war crime,” a statement by ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra said.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “utterly shocked” by the attack.

“We reiterate: patients, health workers, facilities, and ambulances must be protected at all times. Always,” he wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Meanwhile U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “horrified”. “Now, for nearly one month, civilians in Gaza, including children and women, have been besieged, denied aid, killed, and bombed out of their homes,” Guterres said. “This must stop.”

The airstrike at al-Shifa was far from the only Israeli attack on spaces defined as “protected civilian objects” under international law in the span of 24 hours.

On Saturday, the Gaza Ministry of Health reported that another strike had hit Al-Nasr children’s hospital in Gaza City, killing at least two people.

An Israeli airstrike also hit U.N.-run al-Fakhoura school in Jabalia refugee camp on Saturday, killing at least 15 people who had taken refuge there. “These are people seeking shelter under a UN flag seeking protection under international humanitarian law… We cannot even provide them safety under a UN flag,” UNRWA Director in Gaza, Thomas White, had said a day earlier.

Of the nearly 1.5 million people currently internally displaced in Gaza, some 690,000 are sheltering in 149 UNRWA facilities, the U.N. has reported.

In total, the Gaza Health Ministry said at least 231 people were killed in the span of 24 hours, raising the death toll in Gaza to 9,488, including 3,900 children, with 24,158 wounded. It added that it had received 2,000 reports of missing persons, including 1,250 children believed to be trapped under the rubble. These missing people are not included in the death toll.

Reports also detailed the seemingly deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure, including generators, solar panels, and water tanks — as Gaza already suffers from life-threatening shortages in water, electricity, and medicine. Meanwhile, the U.S. has said it has received no records of Israeli claims that Hamas has blocked or seized humanitarian aid supplies — claims that have been levied to justify preventing the entry of fuel and other necessities into Gaza.

Al-Jazeera meanwhile reported that two mosques had been bombed in Gaza City’s al-Sabra neighborhood.

While Israel has repeatedly called for civilians to evacuate northern Gaza, 14 Palestinians, including children, were killed in an airstrike on Friday while seeking to head south. Witnesses told WAFA news agency that rescue vehicles were unable to reach the scene as Israeli forces were targeting any vehicles in the area. That same day, five people were killed in an airstrike on a home in Bani Suheila in the southern Gaza Strip — the latest Israeli attack confirming that  nowhere is safe in the tiny Palestinian enclave.

As Israel ramps up its cruelty in Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed back against mild U.S. calls for a “humanitarian pause.” This comes as Al-Jazeera estimates that the onslaught on Gaza has cost Israel at least $2 billion so far.

Palestinian workers return to Gaza with harrowing testimonies of abuse

Israel deported thousands of Palestinian workers from Gaza who were detained en masse in what was called “unlawful, arbitrary detention” without charge or trial in the wake of October 7, after which they were collectively stripped of their work permits.

Some of the workers, who were forced to cross back into Gaza on foot, spoke of severe mistreatment, as at least 4,000 Palestinian workers were rounded up by Israeli forces following the Hamas attack on October 7. Workers told Al-Jazeera that they were brutally interrogated and tortured.

“For three days, we remained handcuffed and blindfolded,” one of them told AP news agency. “They would put us under the sun for two, three or four hours, with no water, food or anything.”

Other workers said that their belongings, including cell phones and money, had been confiscated when they were detained, and were not given back to them when they were deported. Others showed numbered identification bracelets around their wrists — a troubling detail that many online have likened to the numbers tattooed on prisoners held in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

Numbered bracelets placed on Palestinian workers from Gaza.
Numbered bracelets placed on Palestinian workers from Gaza. (Photo: Social Media)

At least one worker, 61-year-old Mansour Warsh Agha, died shortly after being released, in circumstances that have yet to be explained by Israel. His body reportedly shows bruises and signs of beatings.

Some 18,500 Palestinians from Gaza had permits allowing them to work in Israel before October 7. Many who found themselves in Israel that day tried to flee to the occupied West Bank to escape Israeli reprisal — but were detained during Israeli army raids there.

Israel has multiplied its imprisonment of Palestinians in the past month, detaining over 6,000 people, including both workers from Gaza and residents of the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem — more than the number of Palestinians that were already in Israeli prisons before October 7. Before last month, it was estimated that 40 percent of Palestinian men would be detained by Israel at least once in their lives

West Bank: one teenager killed, settler violence 

Armed confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinian resistance groups in the occupied West Bank were reported once again on Friday night in Balata and Jenin refugee camps in Nablus and Jenin respectively. Some 50 Palestinians were detained overnight by Israeli forces across the West Bank, many of them in al-Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron. Palestinian prisoners’ rights groups have said that more than 2,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel in the past four weeks, many of them held under Israel’s much-decried policy of administrative detention, under which Palestinians are imprisoned indefinitely without charges or trial.

Muhammad Wael Ja’bari, 17, was shot and killed by Israeli forces during a demonstration in Hebron on Friday, while two others were injured. Eight Palestinians were wounded by Israeli forces in Beit Ummar, as soldiers reportedly ransacked homes, shops, and mosques, planting Israeli flags on the roofs of buildings. Meanwhile, Israeli residents of the illegal settlement of Pisgat Zeev injured at least one Palestinian when they opened fire on Shu’fat refugee camp on Friday, before Israeli forces came and shot tear gas and stun grenades at Palestinian residents.

There have been widespread reports of torture and abuse of Palestinian detainees at the hands of Israeli soldiers since October 7.

The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has called the situation in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem “alarming and urgent,” amid widespread army raids and unchecked settler violence, which has led to Palestinians being killed, injured, and subjected to mass forced displacement in what Israeli human rights group B’Tselem had previously termed “pogroms.”

“Despite hundreds of settlers being involved in this daily violence, since 7 October Israeli forces have reportedly arrested only two settlers for assaulting Palestinians and killing one Palestinian farmer,” the U.N. noted. “Settler violence, which was already at record levels, has also escalated dramatically, averaging seven attacks a day. In more than a third of these attacks, firearms were used.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, a far-right extremist and settler living in Kyriat Arba in violation of international law, has downplayed deadly settler violence in the West Bank as mere “graffiti” in a cabinet meeting, Israel’s Channel 12 reported on Friday.

Blinken meeting with Arab leaders in Jordan

Representatives of the Jordanian, Emirati, Saudi, Qatari, and Egyptian governments, along with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Hussein al-Sheikh, were due to hold a coordination meeting on Saturday to discuss how to reach a resolution to the devastation in Gaza.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was in Israel on Friday for the third time since October 7, was set to meet the Arab envoys later in the day.

Egypt, Jordan, and the UAE have normalized relations with Israel, while Saudi Arabia is widely believed to have informal ties.

Israel’s efforts to normalize relations with Arab countries in recent years have been severely shaken by its indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza — with some countries recalling their ambassadors and others facing serious pressure from their citizens.

On Friday, Oman, which does not have official relations with Israel, said it saw the most recent attack on al-Shifa hospital as “a continuation of war crimes and genocide and a clear breach of international laws and conventions established to protect people during conflicts.”

That same day, Honduras became the fourth Latin American country to recall its ambassador to Israel in recent weeks.

“Given the serious humanitarian situation suffered by the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip, the Government of the President [Xiomara Castro de Zelaya]  has decided to immediately call Mr. Roberto Martinez, Ambassador of the Republic of Honduras in Israel, to Tegucigalpa for consultations,” Honduras Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Reina wrote on X.

Protests are taking place across the United Kingdom and elsewhere on Saturday, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, while a march is planned in Washington, D.C.

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