Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that attempts to minimize losses among Palestinian civilians are “not successful” while Israeli forces continue their operations in Gaza. The Israeli army reported finding an entrance to a tunnel used by Hamas in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, and they released a video claiming to show the tunnel’s entrance in an open area of the Al-Shifa Medical Complex, the largest hospital in the sector.
The video shows a deep hole in the ground scattered with concrete, wood, and sand, and a excavator appeared in the background. The Israeli army also stated that its forces found a vehicle in the hospital containing a large number of weapons.
On Friday, the Israeli forces confirmed that they had recovered the body of a soldier held by Hamas in a building near Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. On Tuesday, Hamas announced the soldier’s death after posting a video of him alive, followed by some photos of what the movement claimed to be his body after being killed in an Israeli airstrike.
Hamas stated late Thursday that what the U.S. Department of Defense (Pentagon) and the U.S. State Department say about the movement exploiting Al-Shifa Hospital for military purposes “is a repeated, exposed false narrative, as demonstrated by the clumsy and laughable statements of the spokesperson for the occupation army.”
White House spokesperson John Kirby said on Thursday that the United States is confident in its intelligence assessment regarding Hamas‘s activities in Al-Shifa Hospital but will not share or delve into details about it. The two communication companies in the Gaza Strip reported that all services were cut off due to the depletion of all energy sources.
Israel refuses to allow fuel into the sector, claiming that Hamas could use it for military purposes. Amid the communication blackout and the lack of fuel, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) stated that coordinating humanitarian aid convoys has become impossible.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said, “If the fuel does not arrive, people will die due to the lack of fuel. I do not know exactly when, but it will happen sooner or later.”
As of Thursday evening, no further statements were issued by the companies PalTel and Jawwal, and internet services, mobile phones, and fixed landlines remained suspended. Palestinian civilians in Gaza bear the brunt of Israel’s ongoing military campaign for weeks in response to an attack by Hamas on October 7th, which Israel says killed 1,200, mostly civilians. Health authorities in Gaza, citing reliable UN data, reported that at least 11,500 have been confirmed killed in Israeli airstrikes and ground incursions, with over 4,700 of them being children.
In response to a question from the U.S. news network CBS about whether Israel’s killing of thousands of Palestinians will fuel hatred in a new generation, Netanyahu said on Thursday that Israel’s attempts to limit civilian losses are “not successful.” He accused Hamas of preventing civilians from moving to safer locations.
Netanyahu added, “The death of any civilian is a tragedy. We should not have any casualties because we do everything in our power to keep civilians out of harm’s way, while Hamas does everything it can to keep them in harm’s way.” He continued, “So we distribute leaflets and call them on their mobile phones and tell them: Leave. And many have left.”
The Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army stated that Israel is close to destroying Hamas‘s military infrastructure in northern Gaza, with indications that the army is shifting its campaign to other parts of the sector, which has a population of 2.3 million.
Israel distributed leaflets urging civilians to leave four towns in southern Gaza, areas that were previously told to residents to be safe.
Israeli officials said that Hamas is holding some of the 240 hostages in the Al-Shifa Hospital compound, taken by its militants on October 7th. The Israeli army reported that forces recovered the body of a hostage in a building near the Al-Shifa complex on Thursday. They also found military equipment, including Kalashnikov rifles and rocket shells, in the building.
Human Rights Watch confirmed that hospitals have special protection under international humanitarian law. Louis Charbonneau, the Director of the UN section at the organization, said, “Hospitals only lose this protection if harmful acts are proven to be committed from within their buildings.”
In the first visit to Israel since the Hamas attack on October 7th, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, called on Israel to make more effort to protect civilians in Gaza. Borrell said, “I understand your anger, but let me urge you not to let anger get the better of you.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid stated that Hamas is not only responsible for the October 7th attack but also for the plight of Palestinians in Gaza currently.
The United States expressed “deep concern” on Thursday about the airstrike that targeted the Jordanian military hospital in Gaza, injuring seven people, and confirmed that it opposes “air strikes against hospitals.”
The U.S. Department of State said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone with his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi “to express his deep concern about the Jordanian medical staff members who were injured outside the Jordanian field hospital while providing basic medical care in Gaza.” Blinken, who participated in the APEC Summit in San Francisco, emphasized the “need to protect civilians and medical workers in hospitals,” according to a statement.
Earlier on the same day, the spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, Matthew Miller, told the press, “We are deeply concerned about the injuries to these individuals,” while also commending the “amazing work” that the Jordanian government is doing to deliver aid to the besieged Gaza Strip, which has been under Israeli army bombardment since the Hamas attack on October 7th. The airstrike near the Jordanian hospital in Gaza City on Wednesday resulted in the injury of seven of its staff, as reported by the official Jordanian news agency Petra, prompting condemnation, especially from the Arab League.
Miller added, “As we’ve said before, we don’t want hospitals to be targeted from the air… and we reiterate to all parties that they must take necessary precautions to reduce the risks faced by civilians,” without going as far as condemning the strike.
The United States also called on Israel on Thursday to confront the “increasing violence of extremist settlers” within the framework of “strict” steps aimed at reducing escalation in the West Bank. This was conveyed in a phone call made by Blinken to Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, according to a statement from Matthew Miller reported by the official U.S. Free Channel.
The statement noted that Blinken emphasized the importance of “reducing escalation in the West Bank and the need to deliver humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip,” pointing out that officials “discussed efforts to implement and expedite the transfer of necessary humanitarian aid to Gaza.”
The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported “the martyrdom of three citizens and the injury of 15 others, including four described as critically injured.”
The Israeli army‘s statement said that “an Israeli army plane struck an armed cell that fired on Israeli security forces,” and during the operation, “at least five militants” who fired or threw explosive devices at Israeli forces were “neutralized,” resulting in the death of at least five militants. Hamas stated that three of its fighters were killed.
A journalist reported seeing Israeli military vehicles entering the streets of the Jenin refugee camp, which has a population of 23,000, according to the United Nations. Israeli drones flew over the area while Palestinians threw stones at the vehicles and at least one explosive device. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas before the echoes of gunfire exchanges resonated in the camp, where columns of black smoke rose.
Israeli forces withdrew on Friday morning, with the army reporting that it carried out an operation “to combat terrorism” in the camp, where “locally made explosive devices were discovered placed on the sides of streets and along them to attack Israeli security forces.”
The army also announced that it “struck an armed terrorist cell,” mentioning the “seizure of six weapons” and the arrest of about fifteen “suspects.”