Spain PM urges Israel to end 'indiscriminate killing' in Gaza
Palestinians 'should not be made to pay for Hamas's crimes': France; Gaza hospitals caught in the middle of Israel-Hamas war
November 15, 2023 06:43 PM
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday urged Israel to end the "indiscriminate killing of Palestinians" in Gaza, in his sharpest criticism of Israel since war against Hamas broke out over a month ago.
"We demand an immediate ceasefire on the part of Israel in Gaza and strict compliance with international humanitarian law, which today is clearly not respected," he said during a debate in parliament ahead of a vote in confidence on Thursday in which he is poised to be re-appointed for another term.
"Let there be no doubt, we stand with Israel in rejecting and its response to the terrorist attack that this country suffered in October," the Socialist premier added before calling for the "immediate release" of the hostages kidnapped by Hamas.
"But with the same clarity we reject the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank," he said.
Spain has maintained that Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas after the Palestinian militant group attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking over 200 hostages.
But like the United States and other allies, it has expressed increasing concern over the mounting death toll in the battered enclave, where local health officials say over 11,300 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the conflict started.
Sanchez is relying on the votes of the far-left -- which repeatedly pushed him to adopt a harder line against Israel's campaign in Gaza -- in order to be reappointed for another term following an inconclusive snap general election in July.
Shortly after he spoke the leader of far-left party Podemos, acting social rights minister Ione Belarra, reiterated on social media her call for Spain to break diplomatic ties with Israel and impose economic sanctions on the country.
"We need much more than words in an investiture debate to halt the planned genocide that Israel in carrying out in Palestine," she wrote on X, formerly called Twitter.
Palestinians 'should not be made to pay for Hamas's crimes': France
The Palestinian population should not pay the price for the atrocities committed by militant Islamist group Hamas against Israel, France said on Wednesday, expressing "serious concern" about Israeli operations inside the Al-Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip.
"The Palestinian population should not be made to pay for Hamas's crimes, even less so the vulnerable, injured or sick and the humanitarian workers who courageously continue their work in extremely dangerous conditions," the French foreign ministry said in a statement.
The Israel-Hamas war raging in the Gaza Strip since the October 7 attacks has disabled about two thirds of the 36 hospitals in the besieged Palestinian territory, according to UN officials.
Israeli forces on Wednesday raided the biggest medical complex, Gaza City's Al-Shifa hospital, one of a number of facilities that have been caught up in the worst of the fighting.
Global concern has flared over the war and the thousands of war-wounded and displaced civilians inside the hospital, which has been deprived of electricity, generator fuel and essential medical supplies.
Israel charges Hamas with hiding military sites in tunnels below Al-Shifa and other sites, and using the civilians trapped there as "human shields", claims the Islamist militant group denies.
Here is a look at four of the major hospitals in the urban battle zone of Gaza City, in the north of the long-blockaded coastal Palestinian territory.
- Al-Shifa Hospital -
The Israeli army launched what it called "a targeted operation" overnight inside Al-Shifa, after days of heavy fighting in and around the complex.
Troops raced through the packed corridors and wards and led more than 1,000 Palestinian men, their hands above their heads, into the courtyard, where tanks had moved in.
Fighting in recent days had forced the hospital to bury dead patients in a "mass grave", said the director of Al-Shifa, located in Gaza City's Rimal neighbourhood.
According to the Hamas government, the hospital was built in 1946 during the British Mandate and has been extended since.
The UN World Health Organisation has said about 400 medical staff and caregivers worked there and 3,000 civilians had taken refuge from the war.
The Hamas government's deputy health minister told AFP on Sunday that an Israeli airstrike had "completely destroyed" the cardiac ward building.
Three nurses have been killed, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Sunday.
"Essential infrastructure" including water tanks, maternity ward equipment and the medical oxygen storage centre had also been damaged, it said Sunday.
An ambulance leaving the hospital was hit by a strike that killed 15 people in early November. The Israeli army accused Hamas of "using" the vehicle.
- Al-Quds Hospital -
Gaza City's Al-Quds Hospital -- with just 100 beds but recently sheltering thousands of displaced -- was evacuated on Tuesday, said the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.
"This comes after more than 10 days of siege, during which medical and humanitarian supplies were prevented from reaching the hospital," it said.
Opened in the early 2000s, the hospital had "become a threat to the lives of everyone inside" due to the war, complete power outage and the depletion of water and food.
Health staff and patients were taken to southern Gaza.
The Israeli army Monday reported firefights outside the hospital in which it said "21 terrorists" died.
OCHA earlier said that up to 14,000 people had taken refuge within the hospital complex since the start of the war.
This hospital was previously hit by Israeli airstrikes in the war of late 2008 to January 2009. Its emergency department and other wards were rebuilt with the help of French funding.
- Indonesian Hospital -
Opened in 2015, the Indonesian Hospital was financed by Jakarta and is located in Gaza's largest refugee camp, Jabalia.
It has a normal capacity of 110 beds, its director Atef al-Kahlot has said in media reports.
According to the Hamas government, at least 30 people were killed in the hospital by Israeli bombing.
On October 28 and 29, after the Israeli army issued evacuation orders for northern Gaza, targets near the hospital were bombed, OCHA said.
On November 5, the Israeli military claimed that the hospital had been used to hide an underground Hamas command and control centre.
The Palestinian Islamist movement denied this.
The army has also presented satellite photos that it said showed a Hamas rocket launch site about 75 metres (yards) from the hospital.
- Al-Rantisi Hospital -
Al-Rantisi children's hospital is close to al-Shifa in western Gaza City.
In 2019, it was equipped with the territory's only paediatric oncology department, partly funded by a US humanitarian organisation.
The Israeli army entered the hospital on Monday and said it had discovered an abandoned "Hamas command and control centre" in the basement.
The army released a video showing weapons and what it described as other evidence Hamas had held hostages there after abducting some 240 people on October 7. Hamas denounced the footage as staged.
On Saturday, the Israeli army said it had killed Ahmed Siam, "a Hamas commander" who it said had been "holding around 1,000 Gaza residents hostage at al-Rantisi hospital".
The military claimed on Monday to have evacuated its patients "to a safer hospital".
The director of all Gaza hospitals, Mohammed Zaqut, charged that the army had carried out "forced evacuations" of two paediatric hospitals, Al-Rantisi and nearby Al-Nasr, and left patients "on the streets without care".