Israel's military up till now has sought to present southern Gaza as some kind of safe zone as it pushed Gazans to evacuate the northern half of the Strip to pave way for the ongoing ground and aerial assault. But all the while there have still been intermittent airstrikes on southern Gaza, after some one million or more civilians have been internally displaced.
New leaflets have been mass dropped over the Strip warning towns located in southern Gaza that inhabitants must evacuate. "Palestinians in parts of southern Gaza said they received evacuation notices Thursday," the AP reports.
"The signal that fighting is about to expand in the south comes a day after Israeli forces began searching a north Gaza hospital where they claimed Hamas militants operate — a claim that Hamas and hospital staff deny," the report continues. Already some two-thirds of the Strip's some 2.3 million people have been made homeless by the fighting.
The leaflets dropped over parts of the south reportedly said, "For your safety, you need to evacuate your places of residence immediately and head to known shelters," and named multiple specific neighborhoods.
"Anyone near terrorists or their facilities puts their life at risk, and every house used by terrorists will be targeted," the leaflets said, strongly suggesting that the IDF sees the locations has homes to terror bases.
These southern towns are already overflowing with the internally displaced, including at schools, medical facilities, and sprawling makeshift tent cities.
IDF releases footage showing the Navy's elite Shayetet 13 unit capturing Gaza's port a few days ago. pic.twitter.com/2cXpaU6NL5— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) November 16, 2023
The latest death toll from Gaza's health ministry says over 11,300 - mostly civilians - have been killed in Gaza since early October airstrikes began. The United States has still not backed a ceasefire. Over 50 IDF troops have been confirmed killed since the ground assault began.
At the same time, a new United Nations statement complied by a group of UN experts and special rapporteurs has cited what it says is evidence of "increasing genocidal incitement" against Palestinians.
"We are deeply disturbed by the failure of governments to heed our call and to achieve an immediate ceasefire," the UN group said. "We are also profoundly concerned about the support of certain governments for Israel’s strategy of warfare against the besieged population of Gaza, and the failure of the international system to mobilize to prevent genocide."
This comes as momentum grows within the UN Security Council toward calling for a ceasefire, or at least a significant humanitarian pause.
BREAKING: The UN security council passed a resolution calling for pauses in the fighting in Gaza. The U.S. didn't veto it. It is the 1st time the UN security council adopts a resolution on the war— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) November 15, 2023
Meanwhile, heavy fighting continues to be observed near and around Gaza City's al-Shifa hospital, the Strip's largest. It now appears to be under the control of the Israeli military, which has filmed groups of its troops taking medical supplies into the facility.
The New York Times, taking note of this 'info war' and battle of competing narratives in progress, says the IDF will now seek to make its case to the world:
What Israel finds — or doesn’t — in the hospital could affect international sentiment about the invasion and influence the negotiations taking place on freeing more than 200 hostages being held by Hamas.
Eighteen hours after the raid on the hospital began, the Israeli military released photos and video that it said backed its assertions. It distributed images of 13 guns that it said its soldiers had discovered in the hospital, as well as a statement saying that it had found a military command center in the hospital’s M.R.I. unit.
Israel raises its flag over Gaza’s Al Shifa Hospital.— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) November 16, 2023
It’s their hospital now. pic.twitter.com/aYslkOaZX2
Al-Shifa Hospital Director Muhammad Abu Salmiya in an interview with Al Jazeera has rejected Israeli claims that the large medical complex was being used as a Hamas command center or base of operations. He said the following:
- The Israeli army’s claims are false, and there was no gunfire from inside the hospital toward the Israeli soldiers.
- We will not leave the patients alone: we will live and die together.
- Water shortage is making it hard for us, but we will try our best to survive.
- The Israeli army bombed the water line.
- There are some Israeli vehicles behind the specialised surgeries building and the general surgeries building.
- The army is digging up the ground to allow military tanks to besiege the hospital.
"We can see the tanks before our eyes and we can see the soldiers walking inside the hospital," Salmiya has said. IDF troops reportedly entered the hospital itself without major bloodshed inside - though the past days had witnessed airstrikes and mortars kill or wound people huddled at the entrance courtyard to the facility.
Forty percent of the dead are children. https://t.co/ViVTIgbuU8— Scott Horton (@scotthortonshow) November 16, 2023
At this point there's been over 12 hours of an ongoing Israeli search and inspection of the hospital. "The occupation forces roam freely inside the hospital and they only want to kill, kill, then kill," al Shifa director Salmiya claimed further.