On Friday Israeli media produced this headline hailing that “Israeli flags wave proudly along the shores of Gaza”. Starting on Thursday footage began widely circulating online showing IDF troops holding an Israeli flag raising ceremony, laying stake to conquered areas of the Strip. In a short speech during the ceremony on a Gaza beach, just prior to leading troops in the national anthem, an IDF soldier said “this is our land” and told his forces they are leading the way for Jews “to return to our lands.”
Israeli military official says Gaza is theirs:— Younis Tirawi | يونس (@ytirawi) November 9, 2023
“We returned, we were expelled from here almost 20 years ago. We started this battle divided & ended it united. We are fighting for the Land of Israel. this is our land! And that is the victory, to return to our lands” pic.twitter.com/IG3nB3zFAW
Following this highly provocative scene, on Friday Iran issued a new warning, saying that Israel’s expansion of its operations and attacks on Gaza hospitals and other provocative acts make an expansion of the scope of the war “inevitable”.
Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian conveyed the statement in a phone call with Qatar’s prime minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, according to state media.
“Due to the expansion of the intensity of the war against Gaza’s civilian residents, expansion of the scope of the war has become inevitable,” Amirabdollahian said. He separately posted to X that “time is running out” for Israel, and stated, “The only benefit of Netanyahu was that he made the foundations of the fake Israeli regime more shaky and showed the criminal, violent, and aggressive face of the Zionist regime in the massacre of women and children in Gaza.”
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After reports emerged starting Wednesday and Thursday that Israeli tanks had pushed to the center of Gaza City, Palestinian officials have said tanks have drawn close to and have surrounded key hospitals where thousands of Palestinians are taking shelter as wounded patients are receiving treatment. They said Friday that air strikes have hit the Strip’s biggest hospital, Al Shifa, killing at least one and wounding several others.
Other hospitals were were also reportedly struck at dawn, including strikes on the grounds of the Indonesian Hospital and the Rantissi cancer hospital, according to eyewitnesses cited in Reuters. Sprawling tent encampments of the internally displaced can be seen on the hospital campuses, but Israel claims that Hamas has ‘terror tunnels’ underneath, and further that the group has a base of operations in Rantissi hospital. Civilians waiving white flags have been trapped, in at least one instance coming under fire while trying to escape. Gazan authorities say the Israel’s military is firing on them, while Israel claims Hamas is shooting its own people to keep them as “human shields”.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tanks have been observed near these hospitals, with some unconfirmed video evidence emerging that civilians taking shelter there have been hit either by IDF snipers, artillery, or possibly drone strikes.
The Israeli military has ordered the immediate evacuation of these hospitals but people reportedly have not moved, fearing any attempt to exit will be more dangerous.
The White House announced Thursday that Israel agreed to implement daily four-hour pauses in fighting to facilitate a humanitarian corridor for civilians to flee south, but it’s unclear how this will effect standoff situations where civilian enclaves are surrounded by tanks.
Al Jazeera, which has correspondents on the ground, says that tanks are within a mere hundreds of meters of some of the hospitals in question: “Using tanks and armored vehicles, they have closed a roughly 100-metre perimeter around these hospitals, still sheltering thousands of wounded and displaced people,” the Friday report says.
The moment the Al Shifa Hospital courtyard was struck last night as displaced civilians slept. Body parts blown off. You can hear the pain in the screams.— Hamza (@Hamza_a96) November 10, 2023
At least 2 other hospitals were bombed in the same night.
There are no words to describe this level of barbarity. None. pic.twitter.com/87wacC1MvX
“People have sent appeals from inside al-Rantisi Hospital and Nasser Hospital, asking to be allowed to flee,” Al Jazeera writes.
And yet the situation is growing more dangerous for civilians as the bombs fall. Gaza health ministry has alleged that Israeli jets struck al-Shifa Hospital buildings five times since Thursday night. This sent some of the civilians leaving for more potentially safe areas.
“They shelled the maternity department and the outpatient clinics building. One Palestinian was killed and several were wounded in the early morning attack,” the health ministry said.
Heavy and back to back Israeli air strikes bombed the vicinity of Al-Awda hospital. This is what they refer to as a fire belt. No place is safe in Gaza.— MoTaz (@azaizamotaz9) November 10, 2023
Video by Feras Al-Ajrami pic.twitter.com/6usNA1eWCO
The ministry said in response to the IDF’s evacuation order: “We are talking about 45 babies in incubators, 52 children in intensive care units, hundreds of wounded and patients, and tens of thousands of displaced people.” There are conflicting reports of casualties as gunfights have been reported on the perimeter of Shifa hospital, with reports of IDF special forces operating there:
However, according to AFP, a government statement claimed that there were “thirteen martyrs and dozens wounded in an Israeli strike on Al-Shifa compound today,” and hospital director Mohammad Abu Salmiya alleged that “Israeli tanks fired on Al-Shifa hospital.”
Israel has alleged that a Hamas military quarter lies adjacent to Shifa Hospital and has called the area “the heart” of Hamas’s intelligence and operational activities.
Meanwhile the UN and aid organizations have had new issues getting trucks into the Strip and to the necessary locations amid “hell on Earth” – as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) described.
Below: Palestinian sources say civilians waiving white flags who have tried to exit hospital grounds have been fired on by the IDF, while Israeli sources say Hamas is firing in order to prevent them from leaving:
⚡️Israeli army fired on displaced families and medical teams who tried to leave Al-Nasr Hospital in Gaza, which has been besieged since dawn by the occupation pic.twitter.com/XKGphbtOMl— War Monitor (@WarMonitors) November 10, 2023
“We cannot drive to the north at the current point, which is of course deeply frustrating because we know there are several hundred thousand people who remain in the north,” said OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke.
“If there is a hell on Earth today, its name is northern Gaza,” he said. “It is a life of fear by day and darkness at night and what do you tell your children in such a situation, it’s almost unimaginable – that the fire they see in the sky is out to kill them?”
There have been reports that top US and Israeli officials are in Doha seeking potential hostage deals via Qatar government mediation. But Israeli President Isaac Herzog has said “there is no real proposal” currently on the table, NBC News reports.
Hamas has continued publishing high quality close-quarter combat footage showing IDF tanks suffering damage:
V. impressive footage, clearly the al Yassin/PG-7VR (Sometimes called the al Yassin 105) functions well- but apparently not enough to pen IDF armour reliably.— Cᴀʟɪʙʀᴇ Oʙsᴄᴜʀᴀ (@CalibreObscura) November 8, 2023
Some of these maybe mission kills? But seems heavier AT capability needed even at close range.pic.twitter.com/M8nkuYI8Bn
“There is no real proposal that is viable from Hamas’ side on this issue. Whilst there are many, many people who are third parties who are sending optimistic messages to the newsreels, I’m saying outright: According to my knowledge, up to now, there is no real substantial information that is showing any real offer of any process on the table,” Herzog explained.
As of Friday, Israel’s military has announced its official troop death toll has risen to 37. Some analysts believe this figure to in reality be much higher, given the extremely difficult nature of tight urban combat, and Hamas’ guerilla tactics and use of sprawling tunnels for ambush operations.
Apocalyptic scenes from Gaza like the following have now become daily…
🇮🇱🇵🇸 This must be a scene from an apocalyptic film. pic.twitter.com/P9D8jRJv4n— Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) November 10, 2023
There are around 11,000 Gazans dead at this point, mostly civilians, causing UN Secretary-General António Guterres to tell a conference this week that something has gone “clearly wrong” with Israel’s operation. “There are violations by Hamas when they have human shields. But when one looks at the number of civilians that were killed with the military operations, there is something that is clearly wrong,” he said.