Gaza neighbourhood flattened and hospital told to evacuate

Continuing Israeli air strikes on Gaza have destroyed most of a neighbourhood and officials from the Hamas-run health ministry say the overall death toll has risen to more than 4,300 people.

More than half of those killed are women and children, the ministry says.

About 1.4 million Gazans have been displaced with more than half a million people in 147 UN shelters, the UN says.

On Saturday the first aid trucks entered Gaza. Israel’s military said the aid was for southern Gaza only.

It has told all residents in the northern Gaza Strip to leave and move south of Wadi Gaza in the centre of the territory.

However Israeli air strikes have also continued in southern Gaza and some people have refused to leave their homes, saying nowhere is safe.

Israel cut off supplies of fuel, electricity and water to Gaza after Hamas’s military wing broke through the border into Israel, killing more than 1,400 people and taking more than 200 hostages into Gaza.

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said “intensive bombardments” were continuing on Gaza, as were Palestinian armed groups’ “indiscriminate rocket firing towards Israeli population centres”.

UN officials describe the situation in Gaza as catastrophic. Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said humanitarian conditions in Gaza were “under control”.

Most of Al-Zahraa neighbourhood destroyed

The latest Israeli airstrikes destroyed the al-Zahraa neighbourhood in central Gaza, with more than two dozen blocks of flats razed to the ground overnight into Friday.

Images and footage posted on social media showed plumes of smoke rising above the neighbourhood and lines of flattened buildings along rubble-lined streets.

Residents told the BBC that they had not expected the bombing as the area had been relatively calm. They said they were told to evacuate on Thursday evening at around 20:30 to 21:00 local time (17:30-18:00 GMT).

“We ran through the streets. then Israel started bombing this area non-stop, from 9pm to 7am this morning,” one woman told the BBC on Friday.

The bombing there has left thousands of people with nowhere to go. On Friday another resident told the BBC people were trapped under the rubble of their homes.

“Ambulances cannot get here. People are screaming but we cannot pull them out,” he said.

Hospital told to evacuate

In northern Gaza, the Palestinian Red Crescent said Israeli forces had ordered the evacuation of the Al-Quds hospital.

The hospital is currently home to more than 400 patients and 12,000 displaced civilians, according to the Red Crescent.

The humanitarian organisation called on the “international community to act urgently”.

A doctors’ group, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, said it filed a petition to Israel’s Supreme Court warning that Al-Quds hospital could not be evacuated.

“In its response, the state announced that it would not attack the hospital for the time being,” the group said, as it warned against harming civilians during combat, violating international law, and damaging medical services.

Meanwhile the NGO Save the Children has warned that the lives of a million children in Gaza “hang in the balance”.

The aid agency has called for the urgent medical evacuation of ill and injured children from the enclave, and warns of increased deaths as a direct result of severe medical supply shortages and power blackouts.

Deaths after air strike near Gaza church

Israel says it is investigating after the compound of a Gazan church was damaged by an air strike against Hamas on Thursday.

A building near to the Saint Porphyrius Church in Gaza City partially collapsed in the attack.

Hamas officials said 16 people died, while Israel said it was aware of reports of casualties.

US congressman Justin Amash said several of his relatives who had been sheltering in the church compound were killed as a result of the Israeli air strike.

“The Palestinian Christian community has endured so much. Our family is hurting badly,” he wrote on X.

The Israel Defense Forces said its fighter jets had hit a nearby Hamas command and control centre that was being used to carry out rocket attacks.

“As a result of the IDF strike, a wall of a church in the area was damaged. We are aware of reports on casualties. The incident is under review,” it said.

“The IDF can unequivocally state that the church was not the target of the strike.”

Based on images released on Friday, it appeared that while the main building of the church suffered some damage, it was the adjacent building within the compound that suffered a collapse.

Photos seen by BBC Verify show a large amount of debris spilling onto the road.

The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem expressed its “strongest condemnation of the Israeli air strike that has struck its church compound”.

Saint Porphyrius is the oldest church still in use in Gaza, with the current structure dating back to the 12th Century. There are around 1,000 Christians in Gaza, most of whom are Greek Orthodox.

Hamas said that up to 500 people were sheltering at the site, although this number cannot be verified.

Source: BBC