No word on whether medicines have reached hostages

IDF shares images of Gaza field hospital, debunking Jordan’s claim of strike damage

Hamas-run health ministry claims 16 killed in strike on Rafah home; no comment from IDF; Qatar confirmed shipment of medicines for hostages entered Strip; rockets hit the south

An aerial view of Jordan's field hospital in southern Gaza's Khan Younis on January 17, 2024, at 1:55 p.m., in footage released by the Israel Defense Forces later the same day. (IDF)
An aerial view of Jordan's field hospital in southern Gaza's Khan Younis on January 17, 2024, at 1:55 p.m., in footage released by the Israel Defense Forces later the same day. (IDF)

The Israel Defense Forces denied claims that it shelled a Jordanian field hospital in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis, as troops continued to battle Hamas operatives in the area on Thursday and terror groups fired a barrage of rockets at southern Israeli communities around midnight.

On Wednesday, the Jordanian military claimed its military field hospital had been badly damaged as a result of Israeli shelling in the vicinity, but the aerial imagery shared by the IDF shows all of the tents intact.

In response to a query on the matter, the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit told The Times of Israel that the military “did not attack the Jordanian hospital in Khan Younis,” but that troops were engaged in a gun battle with Hamas operatives in a nearby area.

“There are claims that a medical staff member of the hospital was injured as a result of the shooting. As of now, it is not possible to verify that the injury is the result of IDF troops firing,” the IDF said, adding that before troops entered the area, they were briefed on the hospital and were told that it is “a sensitive place and it is very important for the IDF not to endanger it and its people.”

The IDF also noted that “coordination was carried out between the relevant parties” ahead of the army’s operations near the hospital on Wednesday, in which it instructed the hospital staff to seek shelter.

“The hospital is not damaged and continues to function and provide medical care to those who need it,” the IDF said.

In the south of the Strip, the Hamas-run health ministry said that 16 people, half of them children, were killed in an IDF airstrike on a home in Rafah. There was no immediate comment from the IDF on the reported strike.

Palestinians mourn the death of loved ones following an alleged Israeli strike on January 18, 2024, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, amid ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas. (Photo by AFP)

The reports came as Qatar confirmed that a shipment of medicines, some intended to be given to dozens of hostages with chronic illnesses held by Hamas, had entered the Strip.

“Over the past few hours, medicine & aid entered the Gaza Strip, in implementation of the agreement announced yesterday for the benefit of civilians in the Strip, including hostages,” Majed Al Ansari, a spokesperson for Doha’s foreign ministry posted on X, formerly Twitter, adding that mediation was continuing “at the political and humanitarian levels.”

A senior Hamas official said that for every box provided for the hostages, 1,000 boxes of medicine were being sent in for Palestinians.

The agreement for medication to enter Gaza came amid the growing humanitarian crisis in the enclave. The Gaza health ministry said Wednesday that the death toll in the Strip had reached at least 24,448 people, though figures from Hamas cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. The IDF says it has killed over 9,000 operatives in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

There was no word on whether the medicines, which were to be transferred by the Red Cross, had been distributed to the hostages.

IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released for publication on January 18, 2024. (IDF)

It is believed that 132 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November. Four hostages were released prior to that, and one was rescued by troops. The bodies of eight hostages have also been recovered and three hostages were mistakenly killed by the military. The Israel Defense Forces has confirmed the deaths of 27 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza. One more person is listed as missing since October 7, and their fate is still unknown.

Hamas is also holding the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin since 2014, as well as two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who are both thought to be alive after entering the Strip of their own accord in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

The rocket alert sirens that sounded at largely evacuated communities near the southeastern corner of the Gaza Strip late Wednesday were the first in almost 48 hours. There were no reports of casualties or damage in the attacks.

Many of those communities were ravaged by the October 7 Hamas massacres, which saw 1,200 people murdered, mostly civilians, along with the abduction of 240 hostages.

Vowing to destroy the terror group, Israel launched a wide-scale air and ground campaign in Gaza, which has continued for over 100 days. Fighting intensified on Thursday, with IDF troops operating in the Khan Younis killing some 40 Hamas operatives over the past day, according to the military. In one incident, the IDF said the 7th Armored Brigade shelled four Hamas gunmen who were approaching the troops.

IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released for publication on January 18, 2024. (IDF)

Meanwhile, in northern Gaza, where the military was carrying out clear-up operations, the IDF said reservists of the 5th Brigade, using tank shelling, killed two gunmen who attempted to ambush the troops.

Several more Hamas operatives were killed in airstrikes in northern Gaza, the IDF said, indicating that troops were still encountering gunmen in areas where it says it has established “operational control.”

Also in northern Gaza, reservists of the Yiftah Brigade spotted Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives rigging a car with explosives and entering a nearby building. The IDF said that one of the operatives came out the building a short while later and was struck by an aircraft. The booby-trapped car was also struck, which the IDF said set off a large secondary explosion.

The IDF added that in Gaza City’s Sabra neighborhood, reservists of the 179th Armored Brigade located a cache of anti-tank mines, RPGs and other military equipment.

Weapons found at a Hamas stronghold in southern Khan Younis, in an image released by the IDF on January 18, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Troops of the Givati Brigade also raided the “Shuhada Outpost,” a main stronghold belonging to Hamas’s South Khan Younis Battalion and the offices of the Hamas battalion commander, seizing many firearms and recovering intelligence documents.

According to the IDF, the stronghold included a training site and offices used by Hamas’s South Khan Younis Battalion during the fighting.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the military still does not have information on where all the hostages are being held by Hamas in Gaza, though it is “making every effort to build an intelligence picture.”

“We are adapting the fighting [in Gaza] according to the intelligence we have. We must say to the public, we do not have a full picture of the hostages,” he said in a Wednesday press conference.

People walk by photographs of civilians held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, in Tel Aviv. January 17, 2024. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

“We are in continuous effort, intelligence-wise, to complete the picture,” Hagari said, adding that efforts to release the hostages are a top priority for the IDF, which include intelligence and operational actions.

“Most important is to create ideal conditions on the ground… so that there will be moves to release the hostages,” he said, referring to the IDF ground offensive against Hamas, now in its 104th day.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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