WASHINGTON – US President Joe Biden urged Israel on Monday to protect Gaza's main hospital as heavy fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas raged around the complex.
“It’s my hope and expectation that there will be less intrusive action relative to the hospital,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office when asked if he had expressed concerns to Israel on the issue.
“The hospital must be protected.”
Biden, who spoke as he was signing a women’s health research initiative alongside First Lady Jill Biden, added that he was “in contact with the Israelis” on the matter.
He said that a deal for the “release of prisoners” was still being negotiated with the help of the Gulf state of Qatar.
A surgeon with Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the medical charity group, said that hundreds of people were stranded in the Al-Shifa hospital complex enduring “inhuman” conditions.
Israel argues that its Hamas enemies built their military headquarters under the Al-Shifa hospital — a charge Hamas denies — while UN agencies and doctors in the facility warned that a lack of generator fuel was claiming lives, including those of infants.
The World Health Organization in the Palestinian territories said early Monday that at least 2,300 people — patients, health workers and people fleeing fighting — were inside the crippled Al-Shifa facility.
The Israeli army has pushed on with its military campaign, determined to destroy the movement whose gunmen it says killed at least 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took about 240 hostages in the country’s worst ever attack when they stormed across the militarized border from Gaza on October 7.
But Israel is facing intense international pressure to minimize civilian suffering amid its massive air and ground operations, which Hamas authorities say have killed 11,180 people, including 4,609 children.