ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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UAE says it will establish field hospital to treat Palestinians in Gaza

As IDF moves in on Hamas positions under Shifa Hospital, five planes take off from Abu Dhabi carrying equipment for Emirati initiative

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Wounded Palestinians are treated at Al-Najjar Hospital following an Israeli airstrike in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, October 19, 2023, (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Wounded Palestinians are treated at Al-Najjar Hospital following an Israeli airstrike in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, October 19, 2023, (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The United Arab Emirates is setting up a field hospital in the Gaza Strip, the country’s state-run news agency announced on Monday.

Emirati ruler Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed ordered the establishment of the hospital, part of its Gallant Knight 3 humanitarian initiative, according to the WAM news outlet.

Five cargo planes took off from Abu Dhabi to Al-Arish in Egypt, where the equipment will be unloaded before being driven into the Gaza Strip.

The hospital will have 150 beds and will have general surgery, orthopedics, pediatrics, and gynecology units for adults and children. It will also have dentistry, psychiatry, family medicine and internal medicine clinics.

“The initiative reflects the UAE’s historic stance of support and solidarity with the Palestinian people, particularly in light of the challenging circumstances currently being faced,” said the state-run agency.

The hospital is being set up in coordination with Israel, but the final details have yet to be hammered out, The Times of Israel has learned.

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, right, greats UAE president Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, upon his arrival at the Hamad airport in Doha, Qatar, December 5, 2022. (Qatar Amiri Diwan via AP)

Israel is eager to see field hospitals set up in the Gaza Strip and beyond. It has accused Hamas of using hospitals as headquarters, and its ability to strike Hamas targets in the hospitals will be made less complicated the more patients are moved to temporary facilities.

Egypt is building a field hospital 9 miles (15 km) from the Rafah Crossing between Egypt and Gaza. France sent a helicopter carrier to the eastern Mediterranean to support Gaza’s hospitals and is in talks with Egypt about setting up a field hospital there.

Following the Hamas massacres, the UAE — which normalized ties with Israel in 2020 as part of the US-backed Abraham Accords — condemned the massacre as well as the kidnapping of Israeli hostages, in a break with other regional players. The UAE was also swift to announce $20 million in humanitarian aid for the Palestinians in addition to saying that it would take in 1,000 wounded Gazan children and their families for treatment.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also spoke with MBZ in the second week of the war.

IDF ground forces operate in the northern Gaza Strip, in this photo released for publication on November 6, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli forces on Monday pushed further into the Gaza Strip and were reportedly nearing the enclave’s main Shifa Hospital — which Jerusalem says is located above Hamas’s command center — as they continued to target Hamas’s underground tunnel network and military capabilities, after launching intensive strikes against the terror group the night before.

In Gaza, the general manager of hospitals in the Strip claimed that the roof of a building at Shifa Hospital, the enclave’s largest, was damaged by an Israeli strike, resulting in deaths and injuries.

Speaking on Al Jazeera, Mohamed Zaqout claimed the strike killed displaced people who were sheltering on the top floor. Solar panels on the roof were destroyed in the attack, he said. Israel later denied that claim.

On Monday night, heavy fighting was reported in the area of the hospital, including the IDF’s use of flares.

On Sunday, the IDF released new intel showing Hamas using hospitals to carry out its operations. The military has previously accused Hamas of having its main base of operations under Shifa, as well as hoarding fuel for terror purposes.

IDF Spokesman Daniel Hagari briefs media that Hamas’s main operations center is located under Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, October 27, 2023 (YouTube screenshot; used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Israel declared war on Hamas after some 3,000 terrorists breached the Gaza border on October 7, slaughtering around 1,400 people — mainly civilians — in southern Israel. They also took at least 240 hostages to the Strip, including at least 30 babies and children.

Gaza health authorities, controlled by Hamas, said Monday that more than 10,000 people, including many women and children, have been killed in the fighting. The figures issued by the terror group cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include its own terrorists and gunmen killed in Israel and in Gaza, and those killed by the hundreds of rockets fired by terror groups that have fallen short inside the Strip.

Israel says its offensive in Gaza is aimed at destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and has vowed to eliminate the entire terror group. It says it is targeting all areas where Hamas operates while seeking to minimize civilian casualties, which the US said Monday are in the thousands.

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