Patients dead after power outage amid Israeli raid on Gaza hospital: Live updates

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At least five patients inside the largest functioning hospital in southern Gaza died after a power outage during an Israeli raid on the facility left them without oxygen, Gaza health officials said Friday.

Troops stormed Nasser Hospital on Thursday after a dayslong siege of the facility in which patients, doctors and humanitarian aid groups described an increasingly dire situation, with dwindling supplies of food and water as well as reports of snipers shooting civilians trying to leave the area.

The Israeli military says Hamas has used the hospital for military purposes, including to hide some of the 250 hostages who were taken captive on Oct. 7. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, Israel's chief military spokesperson, said the military has intelligence indicating there may be bodies of hostages in the Nasser Hospital complex.

On Friday, the Israeli military said it discovered mortar shells, grenades and weapons in the facility and arrested more than 20 militants who had participated in the Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, which killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and triggered the war in Gaza. The Israeli military has not said whether it has found any captives in the hospital.

The U.N. Human Rights Office said the raid on Nasser Hospital appears to be "part of a pattern of attacks by Israeli forces striking essential life-saving civilian infrastructure in Gaza, especially hospitals." The agency said it had documented similar raids in central and northern Gaza since the war began.

"With ... a nearly collapsed health system due to attacks on facilities and restrictions on essential humanitarian supplies, the impact on civilians is appalling," read a statement from U.N. human rights spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani.

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike on a residential building in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Friday, Feb. 16, 2024.
Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike on a residential building in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Friday, Feb. 16, 2024.


∎ Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told reporters Friday that Israel is "thoroughly planning future operations in Rafah" and reiterated the military's claim that the border city is a Hamas stronghold, Al Jazeera reported. Gallant did not provide any timeline for the military operations.

∎ The White House announced a directive signed by President Joe Biden that will effectively allow Palestinian immigrants who would otherwise have to leave the United States to stay without the threat of deportation for at least 18 months.

∎ The Palestinian Red Crescent, an independent aid group, said the Israeli military has targeted the second floor of Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis, resulting in severe damage to two nursing rooms. Less than a week before the raid on Nasser Hospital, Israel stormed Al-Amal Hospital.

Shooting in southern Israel leaves 2 dead, 4 injured, reports say

A shooting at a bus stop in southern Israel left at least two people dead and four wounded, Israeli media reported.

The incident occurred Friday at a bus station in southern Israel where an attacker got out of a car and opened fire, according to Haaretz. The suspect was fatally shot by an armed civilian who had driven by the shooting, the outlet reported, citing Israeli police.

The shooter has been described by Israeli media as a Palestinian man who lived in East Jerusalem, Reuters reported.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on X said the attack "reminds us that the whole country is a front and that the murderers, who come not only from Gaza, want to kill us all."

"We will continue to fight until complete victory with all our strength, on every front, everywhere, until we restore security and peace to all citizens of Israel," he added.

Jack Lew, U.S. ambassador to Israel, said he is "appalled by today’s terror attack" and expressed condolences to the families of the victims.

U.N. court denies South Africa’s request on Rafah

The top U.N. court on Friday rejected a request from South Africa for urgent measures aimed at protecting Rafah but stressed Israel must comply with measures imposed last month in the early stages of a landmark genocide case.

The International Court of Justice said in a statement that the “perilous situation” in Gaza “demands immediate and effective implementation of the provisional measures” that it ordered Jan. 26.

It said no new order was necessary because the existing measures applied to all of Gaza, including the southernmost city of Rafah.

“The Court emphasizes that the State of Israel remains bound to fully comply with its obligations under the Genocide Convention and with the said Order, including by ensuring the safety and security of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” the court said.

South African foreign ministry spokesperson Clayson Monyela said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that the court “affirmed our view that the perilous situation demands immediate & effective implementation of the provisional measures indicated by the Court in its Order of 26 January 2024 which are applicable throughout the #GazaStrip & has clarified that this includes #Rafah.”

Biden says he is 'hoping' Israel does not invade Rafah before peace deal

Biden on Friday said he is "hoping" Israel does not launch a “massive land invasion" on Rafah, the densely populated border city in southern Gaza, before a temporary cease-fire and hostage deal is reached.

Biden said he is optimistic about the negotiations and he does not expect a large Israeli military operation in Rafah.

“My hope and expectation is that we’ll get this hostage deal, we’ll bring the American’s home … the deal is being negotiated now and we’re going to see where it takes us," Biden said, after delivering a speech on the death of Alexei Navalny, a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Peace talks appeared to stall this week after Israel pulled out of ongoing discussions in Cairo, calling Hamas' demands "delusional" and saying it had not been provided any recent proposal.

In recent days, Israeli officials have stated an intention to launch a large military operation in Rafah, Gaza's southernmost city where over 1 million displaced people have sought refuge. Israel claims Rafah is Hamas' final stronghold and has vowed to dismantle its battalions there.

Humanitarian aid organizations, meanwhile, say an invasion of the crowded border city would be devastating and the Biden administration has said it would not support any operation unless there were practical plans in place to protect civilians. Martin Griffiths, head of U.N. emergency relief efforts, has warned of a "slaughter" and others have said, even if civilians were evacuated, there's no place for them to go since so much of the enclave has been destroyed.

Missile launched at ship in the Red Sea, military responding

Military crews are responding to a missile attack that targeted a vessel in the Red Sea on Friday, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organization center said.

An explosion was reported Friday morning "in close proximity" to a ship off the coast of Yemen. "The crew and the vessel are reported safe," the trade organization center said.

For months, the Houthi rebel group has launched drone and rocket attacks on Navy ships and commercial vessels in the Red Sea, drawing military action from the U.S., disrupting an essential shipping route and causing the price of goods to inflate.

In response, the U.S. and Britain have launched dozens of attacks on Houthi military assets in areas of Yemen controlled by the group. The Houthis have said their attacks are in solidarity with Palestinians in war-torn Gaza.

Egypt building border wall ahead of Israeli operation in Rafah

Egypt is clearing land and building a wall near its border with the Gaza Strip ahead of a planned and drawn-out Israeli military operation in Rafah, according to satellite images reviewed by The Associated Press.

The construction signals Egypt's preparation for a scenario in which some of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians crowded against the territory's southern border may flee into Egypt. The Middle East neighbor has warned Israel that if this occurs, it would suspend the peace treaty it signed in the late 1970s.

Gallant told reporters Friday that there were no plans to push Palestinians into Egypt.

“The state of Israel has no intention of evacuating Palestinian civilians to Egypt,” Gallant said. “We respect and value our peace agreement with Egypt, which is a cornerstone of stability in the region as well as an important partner.”

This handout satellite picture taken and released by Maxar Technologies on Feb. 15, 2024 shows machinery building a wall along the Egypt-Gaza Strip border in Rafah, Egypt. Hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians have been driven into Gaza's southernmost city by Israel's relentless military campaign, seeking shelter in a sprawling makeshift encampment near the Egypt border.

The satellite images, taken Thursday by Maxar Technologies, show construction ongoing on the wall, which sits 2 miles west of the border with Gaza. Nearby as well, construction crews appear to be leveling and clearing ground for an unknown purpose.

The Wall Street Journal, quoting anonymous Egyptian officials, described “an 8-square-mile walled enclosure” being built in the area that could accommodate over 100,000 people.

Netanyahu rejects international pressure for Palestinian state

After a phone call with Biden, Netanyahu went on social media to say he rejects international pressure for the creation of a Palestinian state.

"Israel will continue to oppose the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state," Netanyahu said on Thursday. "Such recognition in the wake of the October 7 massacre would give a huge reward to unprecedented terrorism and prevent any future peace settlement."

Netanyahu has repeatedly opposed the creation of a Palestinian state. Over the phone, Biden and Netanyahu discussed "ongoing hostage negotiations," the urgent need of humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians and the Biden administration's view that a military operation in Rafah "should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the civilians," according to a White House summary.

Palestinians line up for a free meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Friday, Feb. 16, 2024. International aid agencies say Gaza is suffering from shortages of food, medicine and other basic supplies as a result of the war between Israel and Hamas.
Palestinians line up for a free meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Friday, Feb. 16, 2024. International aid agencies say Gaza is suffering from shortages of food, medicine and other basic supplies as a result of the war between Israel and Hamas.

Meanwhile, concerns are mounting over a planned Israeli offensive in Rafah, a city on Gaza's border with Egypt, which Israel maintains is Hamas' last stronghold.

Since Israel began its bombing campaign and ground invasion of Gaza, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians have fled south, heeding evacuation orders and pamphlets from the Israeli military. Rafah's prewar population of roughly 280,000 swelled to 1.4 million in a span of months as people crammed into overflowing shelters and sprawling tent encampments to avoid the escalating combat.

With the threat of a large-scale military operation, many civilians who have been displaced multiple times have begun to flee to other parts of the war-ravaged territory.

Contributing: Associated Press; Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Israel Hamas war live updates: Patients dead amid Nasser Hospital raid