Benjamin Netanyahu, Benjamin, Netanyahu, Israel PM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a ceremony for ‘Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Israel’s Wars and Terrorism’ at Yad Lebanon in Jerusalem, Israel, on Sunday, May 12, 2024. (Photo: PTI)

France, Belgium and Slovenia voiced support for the world’s top war crimes court and its chief prosecutor’s request for arrest warrants for the leaders of Israel and Hamas, with both Israel and the United States strongly condemning the effort.

The charges focus on war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip and Israel. Arrest warrants were requested for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Galant, as well as three Hamas leaders – Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail Haniyeh.

Although Netanyahu and Gallant do not face imminent arrest, Monday’s announcement was a symbolic blow that deepens Israel’s isolation over the war in Gaza. In response, Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz went to France on Tuesday.

One of the main hospitals still operating in northern Gaza was forced to be evacuated on Tuesday after Israeli forces opened fire, while another was surrounded by troops, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

Israeli forces attacked a militants’ stronghold in the city of Jenin, killing at least seven people and wounding several others, the health ministry said, amid months of escalating violence in the occupied West Bank.

Israel launched its war in Gaza after Hamas’ October 7 attack, in which militants attacked into southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people – mostly civilians – and abducting about 250.

At least 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, according to Gaza’s health ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians. About 80% of the population of 2.3 million Palestinians have been displaced within the region, often multiple times.

A hospital was evacuated and another hospital was cordoned off for three days after Israeli forces opened fire in northern Gaza

The Palestinian Health Ministry says one of the main hospitals still operating in northern Gaza has been evacuated after Israeli forces opened fire, while another has been surrounded by troops.

Two hospitals, Kamal Adwan and Awda, are located in or near the Jabaliya refugee camp, where Israeli troops have been waging an intense offensive for several days against Hamas fighters, who the army says have regrouped there .

The ministry said Tuesday that Kamal Adwan hospital was “targeted” by Israeli troops, forcing the evacuation of about 150 staff and dozens of patients, including intensive care patients and infants in incubators. The ministry did not elaborate but said they fled “due to shelling.” The Israeli military did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Awda Hospital issued a statement on Tuesday saying it had been surrounded by Israeli soldiers for the past three days and that an artillery shell had hit its fifth floor. On Monday, international medical aid group Doctors Without Borders said Awda had run out of drinking water and was surrounded by Israeli tanks.

In December Israeli troops surrounded the Awda and Kamal Adwan hospitals for several days, causing heavy damage to both and forcing them to close. They have since resumed partial operations. Israel has generally claimed that Hamas uses hospitals as bases or to store weapons, a charge hospital staff deny.

Israel’s 7-month-old offensive in Gaza, triggered by Hamas’ October 7 attack, has devastated the region’s health sector. About two-thirds of Gaza’s original 36 hospitals have been forced to close, and the rest are only partially functioning.

first published: 21 May 2024 | 11:06 pm First

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