According to officials in the besieged enclave, Israel is continuing heavy shelling near several hospitals in northern Gaza as all communications and internet services have been disrupted again.

“Intense bombings have been taking place around hospitals for more than an hour,” said Salama Maarouf, head of the Hamas government’s media office, on Sunday evening.

According to Marouf, particularly serious attacks occurred around the Palestinian territory’s largest hospital, Al Shifa.

Al Jazeera’s Safwat Kahlout, reporting from Deir Al Balah in central Gaza, also said the heaviest shelling on Sunday occurred in the area around the hospital.

“We can understand that these airstrikes are aimed at pushing the Israeli troops surrounding Gaza City towards Al-Shifa Hospital. We know that thousands of people have left their homes in these neighborhoods for hospitals to seek shelter,” he said.

“This suggests that the Israeli army is planning something big, perhaps in the coming hours or in the coming days with regard to Al Shifa Hospital itself.”

Earlier on Sunday, an Israeli attack occurred near Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City, injuring at least 14 people and damaging the building.

The bombing came after the Israeli military again accused Hamas of using hospitals in its military operation against Israel.

“Hamas deploys forces and weapons in, under and around schools, mosques, homes and UN facilities,” Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari told reporters on Sunday.

“One of Hamas’ worst war crimes is its use of hospitals to conceal its terrorist infrastructure.”

Hamas has repeatedly denied the accusation.

The Israeli army confirmed that “significant” attacks took place in Gaza on Sunday. A military spokesman claimed the Israeli ground attack had divided the Palestinian territory in two.

Israeli forces “have encircled Gaza City…Now there is a southern Gaza Strip and a northern Gaza Strip,” spokesman Daniel Hagari said. Troops “have reached the coast and are holding it,” he added.

Internet access advocacy group reported a “collapse in connectivity” across the Gaza Strip. The blackout was confirmed by the Palestinian telecommunications company Paltel.

“We have lost communication with the vast majority of UNRWA team members,” Juliette Touma, spokeswoman for the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency, told The Associated Press. The first Gaza raid lasted 36 hours and the second a few hours.

Concerns about health facilities housing civilians

The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concern for the safety of patients, health workers and the thousands of people staying at Al-Quds Hospital.

“WHO reiterates its call for an immediate ceasefire, active protection of civilians and health care, and respect for international humanitarian law,” the agency said in a post on X.

“At our Al-Quds Hospital, we are deeply concerned about the situation as there has been heavy shelling near the hospital in recent days,” said Tommaso della Longa, a Geneva-based spokesman for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, said Al Jazeera.

“Yesterday [Saturday]“Literally the building in front of the hospital was hit,” he said, adding that the attack broke windows and sent smoke into the hospital, where about 500 patients are currently being treated.

Hospitals and ambulances have been attacked several times since the latest Israeli attacks began on October 7, killing patients, displaced civilians sheltering in the facilities and health workers.

According to the WHO, 39 health facilities have been damaged since the start of the war. Hospitals were also forced to close or suspend services after power and fuel supplies were disrupted.

At least 9,770 Palestinians, including 4,008 children, have been killed in Gaza since the start of the last war, while entire neighborhoods have been reduced to rubble. More than 1,400 people were killed in a Hamas attack on southern Israel that sparked this war.

According to the United Nations, almost 1.5 million people in Gaza are currently internally displaced.

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