A displaced Palestinian boy, who fled with his family from their house amid Israeli strikes, looks after his twin siblings as they take shelter at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip October 29, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories: The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said on Sunday the Israeli military was repeatedly bombing around its hospital in central Gaza, causing damage and putting civilians at risk.

“The Israeli army deliberately continues to launch rockets directly near Al Quds hospital with the aim of forcing medical staff, displaced individuals and patients to evacuate the hospital,” the medical organisation said in a statement.

“This has caused significant damage to hospital departments and exposed residents and patients to suffocation,” the statement added.

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In addition to patients, the Red Crescent said 14,000 people displaced by the war are sheltering at the hospital.

Earlier Sunday, the organisation said it had received phone calls from Israeli forces ordering them to evacuate the hospital ahead of strikes.

A military spokesman told AFP these calls are “part of the military’s overall call asking people to head to the south” of the Gaza Strip.

The head of the World Health Organisation said reports of threats to evacuate Al Quds hospital were “deeply concerning”.

“We reiterate - it’s impossible to evacuate hospitals full of patients without endangering their lives,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, when asked about the phone calls received by the hospital, told CBS show “Face the Nation” that he had not heard of these calls.

“What I can tell you is that hospitals are critical civilian infrastructure. Under international humanitarian law hospitals should not be targeted. They are not military targets,” Sullivan said.

The militant group Hamas issued an appeal to “the United Nations and the international community to take immediate action to stop the threat by the occupation (Israel) to target Al-Quds hospital”.

The health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza has reported 57 attacks on medical facilities since the war erupted on October 7.

A dozen hospitals in Gaza are no longer functioning and 116 health workers have been killed, the ministry said in a statement.

Fighting in Gaza raged for a 23rd day Sunday after Hamas militants on October 7 launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli officials.

Since the Hamas attack, the health ministry in Gaza says more than 8,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s relentless retaliatory bombardments, half of them children.