The Israel Defense Forces denies a claim by aid agencies in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip that asserted Israel had warned humanitarian groups to evacuate a major hospital and five schools ahead of a potential strike.
A military spokesperson says there has been no specific call to evacuate the hospital or the schools. The spokesperson reiterates that the army has been calling on all civilians in northern Gaza to evacuate and head south since last week.
Update: AFP subsequently withdrew its story on the purported Israeli warning, saying it contained erroneous reporting.
The Palestine Red Crescent launched an “urgent appeal” saying it had “received a threat from the occupying authorities to bombard Al-Quds Hospital.”
The IDF has repeatedly said that it does not target hospitals.
The Al-Quds Hospital is in northern Gaza, the area of the strip which has borne the brunt of Israeli air raids as Israel has hit back at Hamas since the terror group staged a devastating attack on Israel on October 7, massacring 1,400 people, over 1,000 of them civilians, and abducting 200.
The Palestine Red Crescent claimed Israel had “demanded” the hospital’s evacuation, and said this would affect more than 400 patients and 12,000 displaced people who have sought “safe haven.”
“We call upon the international community to take immediate and urgent action to prevent another massacre similar to what occurred at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital,” the statement added.
This was a reference to a blast at the hospital on Tuesday, which Hamas blamed on Israel but which Israel has produced evidence — endorsed by the US — showing was caused by a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said in parallel that Israel had told it to evacuate five schools “as fast as possible.”
All of the schools are in Gaza City, close to the hospital.
“We did what we could to protest and reject this decision, but this means that from now these facilities are no longer safe,” an UNRWA statement said, calling on thousands of people in and around the hospitals to flee.