Israel strikes al-Shifa hospital ahead of likely Rafah assault claiming Hamas using it as base

Israel says people sheltering at the hospital will be allowed to evacuate, while Hamas has called the operation a breach of international law, ITV News US Correspondent Dan Rivers reports

Israeli forces launched another raid on Gaza's largest hospital overnight, saying Hamas militants had regrouped there and had fired on them from inside the compound.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said around 30,000 people are sheltering at the hospital, including patients, medical staff and people who have fled their homes seeking safety.

People sheltering at al-Shifa hospital said Israeli forces with tanks and artillery had surrounded the medical complex early on Monday and that snipers were shooting at people inside. They said the army raided a number of buildings and detained dozens of people.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the chief Israeli military spokesperson, said the army launched a “high-precision operation” in parts of the medical complex. He said senior Hamas militants had regrouped there and were directing attacks from the compound.

The army released an aerial video of what it said were militants firing on its forces from inside the hospital, as well as video of a rocket-propelled grenade striking an armored vehicle. It said its forces had detained around 80 people in the raid.

Hagari said the patients and medical staff could remain in the medical complex and that a safe passage was available for civilians who want to leave.

The army last raided al-Shifa Hospital in November after claiming that Hamas maintained an elaborate command centre within and beneath the facility.

The military revealed a tunnel leading to a bunker, as well as weapons it said were found inside the hospital, but the evidence fell short of the earlier claims, and critics accused the army of recklessly endangering the lives of civilians.

New IPC food analysis released on Monday warned famine is imminent in northern Gaza as half of its population face the most catastrophic level of hunger.

An estimated 1.4 million Palestinians displaced by the war have taken refuge in Rafah Credit: AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman

"The people of Gaza are being starved to death," said Tjada D'Oyen McKenna, CEO of charity Mercy Corps.

"What's worse, they have all too often been killed in attacks when seeking out food to keep their children alive."

It comes as the World Health Organization chief said he is "gravely concerned" after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved plans for a military ground offensive in Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza.

Netanyahu's office said the military is preparing to evacuate the estimated 1.4 million people stranded there - many after being displaced from other parts of Gaza. Aid agencies warn civilians have nowhere left to go.

Despite international criticism, Netanyahu said on Sunday the operation will take "several weeks."

Palestinians crowd together as they wait for food distribution in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. Credit: AP

The United States, Qatar and Egypt have spent weeks trying to broker another ceasefire and hostage release, but progress is slow. Hamas is demanding guarantees for an end to the war and Israel is vowing to continue the offensive until it dismantles the militant group.

Stalled talk could resume in Qatar as soon as Sunday, according to Egyptian officials. The talks would mark the first time both Israeli officials and Hamas leaders join the indirect negotiations since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Netanyahu's government has rejected calls for a permanent ceasefire, insisting it must first fulfill its stated goal of "annihilating Hamas."

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