Tanks enter Gaza's Jabalia camp as Israeli military advances deeper into Rafah

City's Kuwait Hospital evacuated as thousands flee non-stop shelling

Israeli tanks manoeuvre along the border with the Gaza Strip, near the Palestinian city of Jabalia. EPA
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Israeli tanks entered Jabalia camp in northern Gaza on Monday, residents and a civil defence official told The National, as the military expanded attacks on the southern city of Rafah, forcing thousands more to flee the besieged city.

Mahmoud Bassal, spokesman for Civil Defence in north Gaza, said the Israeli offensive had forced many of the estimated 360,000 people living in Jabalia and neighbouring Beit Hanoun and Zeitoun areas to flee.

After warning people to leave on Saturday, Israeli warplanes dropped leaflets over Jabalia on Sunday that said: “We are coming; if you return, we will also return”, residents reported.

About 50 people have been killed in 110 air strikes on Jabalia camp since Saturday night, Mr Bassal told The National, with rescue teams unable to reach areas where others are trapped under the rubble.

Rescue efforts were also hampered by the lack of fuel for civil defence vehicles after Israel's week-old military operation in the southern Rafah area disrupted deliveries through Gaza's two main entry points for aid.

Even for those rescued, options for receiving treatment in Jabalia are limited.

“Kamal Adwan Hospital is the only facility currently operational, but it can only provide basic treatment and is at risk of becoming non-functional if Israeli troops reach it,” Mr Bassal said.

Residents who left the area said there was non-stop fighting and shelling, with armed drones training their sights on any signs of movement.

“We left everything behind, except some food and clothes. They even didn’t give us chance to collect anything,” Aseel Hamadona told The National.

No safe place

Aseel was staying in a school run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in Jabalia's Abu Zeitoun area, but fled as heavy shelling drew closer.

“Where should we go? It is enough that we lost our homes and everything and we are moving from place to place to save our children,” she said.

Also on Monday, Israeli forces moved further into Rafah, crossing the Salah Al Din road towards the western districts of Al Geneina and Al Salam, according to the official Palestinian Wafa news agency.

Soldiers are “deep into residential areas of the city”, it said.

Medical staff at Rafah's Kuwait Hospital have been told to evacuate, a British NGO has confirmed, warning Rafah's fragile health system may now completely collapse.

“This was one of the last remaining hospitals in Rafah and only had around 16 beds available for the more than one million people sheltering in Rafah,” Medical Aid for Palestinians said on Monday.

“We are only a few hours away from the collapse of the healthcare system in the Gaza Strip due to the lack of necessary fuel to operate electricity generators in hospitals, ambulances and transportation for staff,” Gaza’s Health Ministry said.

The European Hospital in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, said that electricity was cut from the hospital due to a lack of fuel.

“The only operating hospitals in Gaza are the European Hospital in Khan Younis and Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in central Gaza, and both of those hospitals are working at only 20 per cent of their [prewar] capacity,” Ismael Thawabta, director of Gaza's government media office, told The National.

Aid blocked

He said about 190 to 200 lorries used to enter Gaza daily through the Rafah and Karem Abu Salem crossings, but no aid has entered in the past seven days.

Israeli settlers were filmed attacking aid lorries heading to Gaza from the occupied West Bank.

Settlers with the “Order 9" organisation, which has led groups trying to stop aid to Gaza, halted lorries at the Tarquimya checkpoint, near Hebron, according to the official Wafa news agency.

Pallets were observed falling off one lorry, with the aid scattered on the ground.

Alon-Lee Green, head of the Standing Together movement, called the settlers “subhuman”.

“This is what a reality of haters looks like, of people who love war and death,” he said on Instagram, saying the food was destined for both “innocent people in Gaza” and Israeli hostages.

Additional reporting by Holly Johnston

Updated: May 14, 2024, 6:27 AM