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Jordan accuses Israel of deliberately targeting its Gaza field hospital

Dr. Ghassan Al-Suwaiti, a Jordanian plastic surgeon and burn specialist, performs an operation in December at Jordan's field hospital in Khan Younis.
Ahmad Hasaballah
Getty Images
Dr. Ghassan Al-Suwaiti, a Jordanian plastic surgeon and burn specialist, performs an operation in December at Jordan's field hospital in Khan Younis.

AMMAN, Jordan — The Jordanian military says Israeli forces deliberately targeted its newest field hospital in Gaza on Wednesday, blocking the entrance to the complex with a tank and shooting at the hospital and bunkers where staff were sheltering.

Israel denied that it shelled the field hospital in Khan Younis, saying it was engaged in a gunfight with Hamas fighters nearby.

"This action was not a consequence of a clash with resistance factions," the Jordanian armed forces said in a statement Friday. It said it "strongly asserts that the deliberate targeting of the Jordanian Field Hospital was part of Israel's consistent approach to targeting hospitals in Gaza."

Jordan said it was the fourth deliberate targeting of its field hospitals in Gaza since the conflict began in October.

The kingdom, which signed a peace agreement with neighboring Israel in 1994, established its first field hospital in Gaza more than a decade ago. In November, it set up a second hospital in Khan Younis, after its Gaza City facility was damaged and seven medics injured in what it said was an Israeli airstrike.

According to the Jordanian military, Israeli forces knew the location of the hospital and knew that staff were sheltering in an adjacent concrete building. Video footage released by Jordan's armed forces showed the building with bullet holes in the concrete walls, shattered windows and bloodstains on a bed.

It said one of its injured medics was evacuated by air for treatment while a patient at the hospital sustained shrapnel injuries. Jordan said the hospital incurred substantial damage — a claim denied by Israel.

"Despite ongoing coordination with the Israeli side with emphasis on refraining from targeting Jordanian hospitals, Israeli forces persist in deliberately targeting Jordanian medical facilities on a consistent basis," the Jordanian military said. It noted that targeting medical facilities violates international treaties, including the Geneva Convention.

The Khan Younis field hospital has treated between 400 and 1,000 cases a day since it was set up in November, according to military officials.

Israeli bombardment has damaged or destroyed many of Gaza's hospitals and medical clinics.

Fighting has now drawn closer to the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, the largest hospital still operating in Gaza. Israel has accused Hamas of launching a munition out of the Nasser complex, which is located a few hundred yards from the Jordanian field hospital. A released Israeli hostage said she and other hostages were held in the hospital, which Hamas denied.

On Thursday, the aid organizationMedical Aid for Palestinians said its compound housing emergency medical staff working near the Nasser Hospital was severely damaged in a missile strike. Several team members were injured, and the staff was forced to evacuate, the group said.

The World Health Organization saidtwo weeks ago that there had been more than 300 attacks on health care facilities in Gaza since the start of the war in October, leavingfewer than half of its hospitals even partly functional while overwhelmed with injured civilians.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jane Arraf covers Egypt, Iraq, and other parts of the Middle East for NPR News.