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Israel strikes Gaza’s largest hospital after accusing it as Hamas base

DEIR AL-BALAH (AP) – Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes near Gaza’s largest hospital, which is packed with patients and tens of thousands of Palestinians seeking shelter, residents said. Israel has said Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers have a command post under the hospital, without providing much evidence.

The strikes came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a second stage in Israel’s war on Hamas, three weeks after Hamas launched an incursion into Israel October 7.

Tanks and infantry pushed into Gaza over the weekend in what officials described as a widening ground offensive as Israel pounded the territory from air, land and sea.

The bombardment – described by Gaza residents as the most intense of the war – knocked out most communications in the territory, largely cutting off the besieged enclave’s 2.3 million people from the world.

Communications were restored to many people in Gaza, according to local telecoms companies, Internet-access advocacy group and confirmation on the ground.

Residents said the latest airstrikes destroyed most of the roads leading to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, in the northern part of the besieged territory.

Israel says most residents have heeded its orders to flee to the south, but hundreds of thousands remain in the north, in part because Israel has also bombarded targets in so-called safe zones.

Tens of thousands are sheltering in Shifa, which is also packed with patients wounded in the strikes.

“Reaching the hospital has become increasingly difficult,” Mahmoud al-Sawah, who is sheltering in the hospital, said over the phone. “It seems they want to cut off the area.”

Another Gaza City resident, Abdallah Sayed, said the Israeli bombing over the past two days was the most violent and intense since the war started.

Palestinians pass by the destruction after the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in Rafah, Palestine. PHOTO: AP