Netanyahu Blames Hamas for Civilian Casualties

In the wake of ongoing conflict, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the tragic loss of life, emphasizing efforts to minimize civilian casualties. He detailed measures taken by Israel to warn civilians, including distributing leaflets and making phone calls, urging them to evacuate danger zones.

Meanwhile, a video released by the Israeli military purported to show a tunnel opening near Al Shifa, the largest hospital in Gaza. The footage, which has not been independently verified by sources like Reuters, depicted a large excavation filled with debris. Near the hospital, the military claimed to have discovered a vehicle loaded with weapons.

Countering these allegations, Hamas released a statement rejecting the U.S. Department of Defense and State Department’s claims about its military operations at Al Shifa hospital, calling them unfounded.

The White House, through spokesperson John Kirby, expressed confidence in U.S. intelligence assessments regarding Hamas’ activities in the hospital, but declined to disclose specifics.

Israeli authorities previously alleged that Hamas had taken hostages at the hospital complex. The Israeli military reported recovering the bodies of two female soldiers near the hospital, believed to have been held captive by Hamas.

Separately, in the West Bank city of Jenin, clashes between Hamas’s Al-Quds Brigades and Israeli forces intensified. The Israeli military reported air strikes in response to militant gunfire and explosives, resulting in casualties among the militants.

Recent operations by Israeli forces in Jenin led to significant confrontations, with a death toll that has heightened concerns over escalating violence in the West Bank, a territory occupied by Israel since 1967.

The Israeli military expressed its intent to dismantle Hamas’ military presence in northern Gaza and indicated broader operations across the Gaza Strip, home to 2.3 million people. Civilians in southern Gaza were advised to evacuate, contradicting earlier assurances of safety in these areas.

The toll of the conflict, especially in Gaza, has been severe. According to Gaza health authorities and United Nations reports, thousands have been killed, including a large number of children, in the Israeli bombardment and ground invasion following the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

Human Rights Watch highlighted the special protections afforded to hospitals under international humanitarian law, noting that these protections can only be forfeited if proven to be used for harmful activities.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, during a visit to Israel, urged the Israeli government to enhance its efforts to safeguard civilian lives in Gaza. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen attributed the crisis in Gaza and the Oct. 7 attack to Hamas.