Medics unable to reach wounded in Khan Younis as Israeli tanks advance

Palestinian Red Crescent warns trapped civilians are under siege as Israeli offensive intensifies

A medic carries an injured Palestinian at Nasser Medical Hospital as Khan Younis in Gaza continues to be bombarded. Getty Images
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Paramedics in Gaza's Khan Younis are unable to reach wounded civilians as Israeli forces advance into the city, the Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS) has told The National.

Israeli ground troops and tanks on Tuesday pushed into Khan Younis, the largest city in southern Gaza, after ordering Palestinians to evacuate.

Some Palestinians sheltering in areas of Khan Younis, many of whom were displaced from northern Gaza after the outbreak of the current war, are now trapped, PRCS control room operator Osama Kahlout said.

On Monday evening, Mr Kahlout shared a video showing bombardment by Israeli forces "via air strikes and tank fire", which he said was less than 1km from the PRCS headquarters in Al Amal Hospital, in western Khan Younis.

"Our teams responding to calls for help, in one case of 70 people under siege, were unable to get to the area because of the Israeli presence there."

English follows: ‏🚨‎ فيديو يظهر قصف عنيف حدث قبل ساعات في خانيونس جنوب القطاع على بعد 500 متر فقط مقر الجمعية ومستشفى...

Posted by ‎Palestine Red Crescent society الهلال الاحمر الفلسطيني‎ on Monday, December 4, 2023

"We tried to co-ordinate with a third party to let us through but it was futile."

Mr Kahlout said PRCS teams were shot at on Monday while responding to calls for help.

"The safety of our crew comes first," he added.

Amid the continuing communications blackout in Gaza, people are struggling to call for help and resorting to desperate measures to receive medical care.

‎ ‎وصول مصابين على مركز اسعاف الهلال الأحمر في دير البلح في ظل انقطاع الاتصالات يوم امس Injured Palestinian arrives...

Posted by ‎Palestine Red Crescent society الهلال الاحمر الفلسطيني‎ on Tuesday, December 5, 2023

He said the PRCS headquarters and Al Amal Hospital were overcrowded with displaced families.

"There are at least 15,000 people altogether. Just outside my office door, right now, there are 12 families living in a 70 metre-square space."

His comments came as Israel intensified its bombardment of Khan Younis, forcing Palestinians to seek shelter.

“There is no where for anyone to go," said Mr Kahlout. "I’m just staying here and will continue to work. We will remain here until our last breath."

The World Health Organisation has said the situation in Gaza is rapidly deteriorating.

"The situation is getting worse by the hour," WHO representative Richard Peeperkorn said from Gaza.

"There is intensified bombing going on all around, including here in the southern areas, Khan Younis – and even in Rafah."

Palestinians in areas around Khan Younis have been told to evacuate to the west and south, towards Al Mawasi on the coast and Rafah on the border with Egypt.

However, air strikes have continued to target Rafah.

Israeli army spokesman Eylon Levy meanwhile told reporters on Tuesday that Israel was open to "constructive feedback" to reduce civilian casualties, as the death toll rose to 15,899 in Gaza, according to Palestinian Health Ministry figures.

Even the 156 UN-run schools, where nearly 1.2 million internally displaced people are sheltering, are not safe, the UN has warned. On Tuesday, four people were killed and seven injured in an air strike on a school run by UNRWA (the UN agency for Palestinian refugees) in Deir Al Balah in the central Gaza Strip.

The strike also hit classrooms on the upper floor, the UN said.

Updated: December 05, 2023, 12:40 PM