GAZA: Israeli troops on Thursday (16th of Nov, 2023) advanced their campaign to destroy Hamas in Gaza, fighting gun battles and taking control of a key port a day after a raid on the territory’s main hospital.
The ground campaign has taken aim at key sites like Gaza government buildings and infrastructure, but also the Al-Shifa hospital that Israel says sits atop a Hamas command centre – a charge the group denies.
Bombardment thundered and gunfire rattled in besieged Gaza, while Israel’s ambassador the United Nations branded as “meaningless” a UN Security Council resolution calling for “extended” pauses in fighting.
The Israeli army said Thursday its troops had taken “operational control” of the port at Gaza City in the territory’s north, showing at least a dozen tanks and groups of soldiers massed on the coast near Gaza City.
Israel has concentrated its heavy bombardment and ground offensive in Gaza City, announcing this week the seizure of the parliament building, government offices and Hamas police headquarters.
Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas in retaliation for the attacks of October 7, which killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials.
The Israeli military says 51 of its troops have been killed in Gaza since fighting began.
But with the Hamas-run health ministry saying the death toll from the offensive has now topped 11,500, including thousands of children, calls for a truce are mounting.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, on an Israel visit Thursday, called for the hostages to be immediately freed, but also urged Israel “not to be consumed by rage” in its battle with Hamas.
Both Israel and its top ally the United States say Hamas has built tunnels below the Al-Shifa complex, which has become a focal point in the war.
The Palestinian group and directors at the hospital have denied the charge, and Hamas also rejected reports of weapons being at the site.