France-operated ship to serve as floating hospital off Sinai coast this weekend — source

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

A ship dispatched by the government of France will dock off the coast of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula this week and will operate as a floating hospital for wounded Gazans with roughly 70 beds, a diplomat at Israel’s Embassy in Washington reveals to The Times of Israel.

While there had initially been proposals for ships to dock off the coast of Gaza, it is too damaged from the ongoing fighting for large boats to be able to dock there.

Israel is also supportive of a European Union effort for the establishment of a marine humanitarian corridor, with ships of aid first docking in Cyprus for inspections before continuing to Gaza, a second Israeli official says.

But the damage to Gaza’s port due to Israeli airstrikes complicates this proposal, which has been floated for years and never implemented.

A spokesperson for France’s embassy in Tel Aviv does not deny the developments but tells The Times of Israel, “The specifics of this operation, as well as the suggested humanitarian maritime corridor, are still subject to discussions among all relevant parties.”

Israel has been pushing for field hospitals and other alternatives to the existing medical centers in Gaza, saying that Hamas is operating command centers beneath them.

One of Hamas’s main command centers is believed to be located under Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, which the IDF has closed in on over the weekend.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Israel offered to supply fuel to the hospital, which is in dire need of it, but that the offer was rejected.

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