Israeli ground forces have advanced further into Gaza City, the largest city in the enclave, amidst ongoing airstrikes in northern Gaza. On Friday, hundreds of civilians, mostly Palestinians, sought refuge in the south through evacuation corridors.
Of the 2.2 million civilians in the enclave, over 700,000 have already fled to the south, including foreign passport holders and injured individuals who crossed the Rafah border into Egypt. Reports of loud explosions near hospitals, notably Al Shifa Hospital, the largest medical centre in Gaza, raised concerns as thousands of civilians sought shelter from the escalating conflict.
Gaza medical officials reported conflicting claims between Israel and Hamas regarding the explosions. While Hamas attributed the blasts to Israeli airstrikes, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) blamed at least one explosion on a misfired Palestinian rocket.
Recent explosions damaged the Shifa courtyard and obstetrics department, resulting in casualties. Hamas-run media in Gaza reported strikes near three hospitals, but specific casualty details were not provided. IDF contends that Hamas uses the Shifa Hospital complex as its main command centre, accusing the group of storing weapons and militants there. Hamas vehemently denied these allegations, claiming Israel justifies civilian-targeted airstrikes under false pretexts.
To facilitate the evacuation of civilians in northern Gaza, Israel declared a six-hour cessation of military activities on Friday. Humanitarian pauses have been occurring for several days as the IDF urges civilians to leave the area, emphasizing its intent to dismantle Gaza, the headquarters of Hamas operations.
In Washington, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby announced that Israelis committed to daily four-hour pauses in fighting across northern Gaza. The situation remains dynamic as the conflict unfolds, prompting concerns about the humanitarian impact on the civilian population.