Israeli army says bodies of hostages likely held in Gaza hospital

The army says intelligence from sources, including released hostages, indicate bodies of hostages are being kept in the hospital.

Israel’s army alleged on Thursday that bodies of hostages could be held at a hospital in southern Gaza, after troops entered the facility which medics say has been “besieged” for a month.

The army said troops were involved in a “precise and limited operation” inside Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis city, after intense fighting between troops and Hamas militants around the facility.

ALSO READ: Israeli delegation departs Cairo after truce talks: media

“We have credible intelligence from a number of sources, including from released hostages, indicating that Hamas held hostages at the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis and that there may be bodies of our hostages in the Nasser hospital facility,” the army said in a statement.

The health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza has reported that thousands of people who had sought refuge at the hospital, including patients, have been made to leave in recent days.

A nurse has told AFP of deadly sniper fire, sewage in the emergency room, and a lack of drinking water.

Israeli forces operating across the Gaza Strip have repeatedly raided hospitals, insisting the facilities are being used as command centres by Hamas militants. Hamas denies such accusations.

On Thursday the army, citing intelligence estimates and information from the ground, said “over 85 percent of major medical facilities in Gaza have been used by Hamas for terror operations”.

– ‘Critical’ facility –

The World Health Organization has described Nasser hospital as a critical facility “for all of Gaza”, where only a minority of hospitals are even partly operational.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday he was “alarmed” by reports from Nasser hospital, which he described as the “backbone of the health system in southern Gaza”.

The agency has been denied access to the facility in recent days and has lost contact with staff there, Tedros wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Gaza’s health ministry has called the situation at Nasser “catastrophic”, with staff unable to move bodies to the morgue because of the risks involved.

The army said its “mission is to ensure that the Nasser hospital continues its important function of treating Gazan patients”.

ALSO READ: ICJ confirms SA’s urgent request to intervene in Israel’s Rafah offensive

Hamas on October 7 carried out an unprecedented attack that resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Palestinian militants also took about 250 people hostage. Around 130 of them remain captive in Gaza, including 29 believed dead, according to Israeli officials.

Earlier this week Israeli forces rescued two hostages from the southern Gaza city of Rafah during bombing that killed, according to Gaza’s health ministry, about 100 people.

Since the war began at least 28,663 people have been killed in Gaza, most of them women, children and adolescents, according to the territory’s health ministry.

© Agence France-Presse

Read more on these topics

Gaza Hamas Israel Palestine