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Hamas accuses Israel of deadly hospital strike, intense fighting in Gaza, hostage deal 'close'

Palestinians pray over the bodies of people killed by Israeli airstrikes on Jabaliya refugee camp, at the Indonesian hospital, northern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.
Palestinians pray over the bodies of people killed by Israeli airstrikes on Jabaliya refugee camp, at the Indonesian hospital, northern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. Copyright Ahmed Alarini/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Ahmed Alarini/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AFP
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The latest developments from the Israel Hamas war.

Israel accused of deadly strike on Gaza hospital

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Hamas said on Monday that the Israeli army launched a deadly strike on a hospital in the Gaza Strip, accusing it of "waging war" against hospitals. 

In northern Gaza, where Israel's offensive is now largely concentrated, an airstrike killed at least "12 patients and their relatives" and left "dozens injured" in the Indonesian hospital, located on the edge of the large Palestinian refugee camp in Jabalia, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

The Islamist movement constantly claims that Israel is waging "a war against hospitals" in Gaza.

Israel, for its part, accuses Hamas of using hospitals for military purposes and of treating civilians as "human shields" - something the militant group denies. 

Medics prepare premature babies for transport to Egypt after they were evacuated from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City to a hospital in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023.
Medics prepare premature babies for transport to Egypt after they were evacuated from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City to a hospital in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023.Fatima Shbair/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

Intense fighting in north Gaza

Israeli forces "expanded" their operations against Hamas in the north of the Gaza Strip on Monday. 

Heavy fighting raged on Sunday in central Gaza City, with Israeli tanks responding to rocket fire from Palestinian fighters. Airstrikes also intensified in the evening.

An AFP journalist on the ground reported a succession of aerial bombardments and columns of smoke rising above the Jabalia refugee camp, just to the north of Gaza City.

According to Gaza's Ministry of Health, 41 members of the same family were killed in an Israeli strike on their house in Jabalia. 

The Palestinian Wafa agency also reported a strike during the night on the Indonesian hospital, north of Gaza City, while Hamas reported bombing from Israeli tanks.

The Israeli army said it was continuing to "expand its operations in new areas of the Gaza Strip," particularly in the Jabalia sector. 

Five soldiers were killed on Sunday, bringing Israel's total number of war dead to 64 troops since fighting erupted on 7 October, the army said.

Israel alleges hostages were taken to Gaza hospital

Tensions in recent days have focused on the al-Shifa hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip. 

Israeli forces have taken control of the medical facility after a days-long siege that sparked international condemnation and concern. 

Under pressure to produce evidence justifying their assault, they claim to have discovered a 55-metre-long tunnel, dug 10 meters below al-Shifa, containing “grenade launchers, explosives and Kalashnikovs”.

The Israeli army released on Sunday evening images purportedly from CCTV cameras at the hospital that show, it alleges, hostages kidnapped from Israeli soil on 7 October by Hamas. 

A nurse cares for prematurely born Palestinian babies that were brought from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City to the hospital in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023.
A nurse cares for prematurely born Palestinian babies that were brought from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City to the hospital in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023.Hatem Ali/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

Israel claims the footage reveals what happened to 19-year-old Corporal Noa Marciano,  whose remains were found at al-Shifa last week.

According to the army, Marciano was "transported alive" to Gaza and was being held near the medical facility. However, during the fighting her captor "was killed and Noa injured", army spokesperson Daniel Hagari said on Sunday evening.

"According to an independent autopsy report, Noa's injuries were not life-threatening... but according to the information we have in our possession, concrete information: Hamas terrorists transported her to the hospital al-Shifa and quickly murdered her,” he added.

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Responding to the video released by Israel, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said it was not able to confirm the authenticity of the footage.

The ministry also said Israel bore full responsibility for the deterioration and collapse of health services in Gaza.

Hostage deal  inches closer, say involved parties

Several groups have said they are inching closer to a deal on the release of some of the Hamas hostages.

Qatar - which is leading the mediation - said efforts to bring back the hostages were now within reach. 

"I'm now more confident that we are close enough to reach a deal," said Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, adding that only "minor" practical details remained unresolved.

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Meanwhile, US national security official Jon Finer said an agreement was "closer than ever".

Pressure is mounting on the Israeli government to secure the release of the hostages. It has so far refused any ceasefire without releasing the hostages. Their relatives will meet Monday evening "the entire Israeli war cabinet".

However last night, Israel PM's played down reports of an imminent agreement. "As of now there is no deal," he said.

Some 240 people were kidnapped in southern Israel and brought back to Gaza on October 7. 

Hamas claims some hostages have been killed in Israel airstrikes, while a handful have been released by the Palestinian militant group.

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