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Times Of Israel
Times Of Israel
17 Feb 2024

NextImg:Special forces searching Khan Younis hospital detain over 100 terror suspects, IDF says

The Israel Defense Forces said Saturday that special forces soldiers have arrested more than 100 terror suspects at the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis as they continued to carry out searches of the medical center.

The military said that forces from the Maglan and Egoz units have also killed several Hamas operatives on the outskirts of the hospital.

IDF troops entered the Nasser Hospital building on Thursday after surrounding the hospital for a week, saying they had information that hostages had been held there and that some bodies of dead hostages may still be at the site. At least one released hostage has said that she and over two dozen other captives had been held inside the hospital.

The soldiers have found mortars, grenades and other weaponry belonging to Hamas inside the medical facility, as well as medications with the names of hostages on them.

The IDF on Friday denied claims that troops targeted generators at the hospital. Hamas had claimed several patients had died due to a lack of oxygen after power was cut off and the generators stopped following an IDF raid.

“This morning, a report was received concerning the interruption of generator activity, resulting in the failure of electrical systems within the hospital. Contrary to the allegation, IDF troops did not target the generators. The troops were instructed to ensure the continuous functioning of the hospital,” the IDF said.

An IDF soldier speaks to a doctor at the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis on February 16, 2024. (IDF)

“Despite the generator malfunction at the hospital, all vital systems continued to operate throughout the day based on the existing Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) system in the hospital,” the IDF said.

The IDF said that upon receiving reports of the generator malfunction at the hospital, troops worked to repair it, while the Navy’s Shayetet 13 commando unit brought in a replacement generator.

“These actions were carried out in close coordination between the IDF and the hospital administration through officers of the Coordination and Liaison Administration for Gaza (CLA),” the IDF said.

The IDF said it also brought food and water to Nasser Hospital, as well as coordinated with international aid organizations to supply fuel for the medical center.

Weapons found by IDF troops searching the Nasser hospital in Khan Younis on February 16, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Meanwhile, the IDF continued its campaign throughout different parts of the Gaza Strip with widespread airstrikes and battles between troops and gunmen.

As the fighting continued in Khan Younis, the IDF said Saturday that troops led by the 7th Armored Brigade raided several compounds, finding weapons including explosive devices, grenades and Kalashnikov rifles.

Troops in the area also called in several air strikes on Hamas forces including three terrorists who were trying to launch rockets.

In addition, a paratrooper force killed a terror cell in close-quarters combat, the IDF said.

The IDF also said that there were also clashes in central Gaza where Nahal soldiers killed several operatives.

Meanwhile, rocket warning sirens sounded in the Ashkelon area on Saturday morning, with the municipality announcing that one rocket was apparently intercepted over the city.

There were no reports of injuries or damage.

The war broke out on October 7, when Hamas carried out a devastating attack on southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking 253 hostages, while committing wholesale atrocities.

In response, Israel launched a war with the aim of securing the release of the hostages and toppling Hamas from power in Gaza. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said Saturday that 28,858 people have been killed in the enclave since the start of the war, and a further 68,667 have been wounded.

These figures cannot be independently verified and do not distinguish between Hamas members and civilians. They also include Palestinians killed as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. The IDF says it has killed nearly 11,000 Hamas operatives in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Palestinians line up for a free meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Feb. 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

The war has caused a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, with most of the population displaced and at risk of starvation.

UN humanitarian officials said Friday that Palestinians in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah are reportedly moving out of that region toward central areas around Deir al-Balah as intensified Israeli airstrikes continued.

An estimated 1.4 million Palestinians, more than half of Gaza’s population, have crammed into Rafah, most of them displaced by fighting elsewhere in the territory. Hundreds of thousands are living in sprawling tent camps.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric described the reported movements toward Deir al-Balah, which is roughly 16 kilometers (10 miles) north of Rafah. He also described the lack of food in Rafah and elsewhere — especially in northern Gaza, the first target of the offensive, where large areas have been completely destroyed.

“In Rafah, humanitarian conditions have become increasingly severe, with continued reports of people stopping aid trucks to take food,” he said. “Vulnerable segments of the population include children, the elderly and people with underlying health conditions are particularly susceptible to the risk of malnutrition.”

Egypt, fearing that the crisis may lead Palestinians to seek refuge in the country via Gaza’s southern border, has begun building a wall to prevent that from happening, satellite images analyzed by The Associated Press showed.

While Egypt has not publicly acknowledged the construction of the wall, the country has warned Israel against forcing the Palestinian population currently sheltering in the southern Gazan city of Rafah from crossing the border.

This handout satellite picture taken and released by Maxar Technologies on February 15, 2024 shows machinery building a wall along the Egypt-Gaza Strip border in Rafah, Egypt. (Handout/Satellite image ©2024 Maxar Technologies/AFP)

Cairo officials did not respond to requests for comment Friday from the AP. The satellite images, taken Thursday by Maxar Technologies, show construction ongoing on the wall, which sits along the Sheikh Zuweid-Rafah Road some 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) west of the border with Gaza.

The images show cranes, trucks and what appear to be precast concrete barriers being set up along the road.

Agencies contributed to this report.