Hundreds of people fled on foot Saturday after Israel’s army ordered the evacuation of Gaza’s main hospital where more than 2,000 patients, medics and displaced people were trapped by the war between Israel and Hamas.
An AFP journalist witnessed the movement, on a road leading south, but health officials in the Hamas-ruled territory said 450 patients unable to be moved remained at Al-Shifa hospital. The facility has become the focus of the war that is entering its seventh week after Hamas’s October 7 attacks on southern Israel.
Israel has been pressing military operations inside the hospital, searching for the Hamas operations centre it says lies under the sprawling complex — a charge Hamas denies.Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas in response to the October 7 attacks which Israeli officials say killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and saw about 240 people taken hostage.
The army’s air and ground campaign has since killed 12,000 people, including 5,000 children, according to the Hamas government which has ruled Gaza since 2007.
In Gaza City on Saturday morning, Israeli troops ordered over loudspeakers the evacuation of the Al-Shifa hospital “in the next hour”, an AFP journalist at the scene reported.
They called the hospital’s director, Mohammed Abu Salmiya, to instruct him to ensure “the evacuation of patients, wounded, the displaced and medical staff, and that they should move on foot towards the seafront”, he told AFP.
Israel has come under mounting pressure to back up its allegations that Hamas is using hospitals as command centres, a charge denied by Hamas, an Islamist movement with an armed wing. Al-Shifa hospital has also rejected the allegation.
The United Nations estimated 2,300 patients, staff and displaced Palestinians were sheltering at Al-Shifa before Israeli troops entered the facility on Wednesday.
Palestinians inspect the damage to a building after an Israeli strike on Hamad City in Khan Yunis on November 18, 2023. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
‘They Are All Dead’
Israel has told Palestinians to move from the north of Gaza for their safety, but deadly air strikes continue to hit central and southern areas of the narrow coastal territory.
“They said the south was safer, so we moved,” Azhar al-Rifi told AFP.
But her family was caught in another strike that killed seven relatives, including her five-year-old nephew.
Nada Abu Hiya, aged eight, said she suffered the third bombing of the war at the Nuseirat refugee camp on Friday.
“There are bombings everywhere,” she said. “My grandmother is dead, my mother is dead, my grandfather is dead, my uncle is dead, they destroyed our house. Our neighbours’ house is also destroyed and they are all dead.”
Israel has imposed a siege on Gaza, allowing just a trickle of aid in from Egypt but barring most shipments of fuel over concerns Hamas could divert supplies for military purposes.
A first consignment of fuel entered Gaza after Israel’s war cabinet bowed to pressure from its ally the United States and agreed to allow two diesel tankers a day into the Palestinian territory.
“We took that decision to prevent the spread of epidemics,” Israel’s national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said.
A two-day blackout caused by fuel shortages ended after a first delivery arrived from Egypt late Friday, but UN officials continued to plead for a ceasefire, warning no part of Gaza is safe.
A senior US official said Washington had exerted huge pressure on Israel for weeks to allow fuel in.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said 70 percent of residents have no access to clean water in south Gaza, where raw sewage has begun to flow on the streets.
Under the deal, 140,000 litres (37,000 gallons) of fuel would be allowed in every 48 hours, of which 20,000 litres will be earmarked for generators to restore the phone network, the US official said.
A communications blackout hampered aid deliveries, UNRWA said. Humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths told the UN General Assembly that fuel supplies to the agency so far were “a fraction of what is needed to meet the minimum of our humanitarian responsibilities”.
The Hamas health ministry said 24 patients had died in 48 hours due to the lack of fuel for generators.
In the latest bloodshed, a strike on a residential building in the southern city of Hamad killed 26 people, the director of the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis said.
“I was asleep and we were surprised by the strike. At least 20 bombs were dropped,” Imed al-Mubasher, 45, told AFP.
His wife Sabrin Mussa said: “All of a sudden, the house caught fire. I found myself with gravel in my mouth and I immediately looked for my husband and daughters.
“I saw human remains everywhere,” and screamed for help, she said.
The Israeli military has yet to respond to a request for comment.
Israel has come under scrutiny for targeting hospitals in northern Gaza, but says the facilities are being used by Hamas — a claim rejected by the group and medical staff.
The military says it has found rifles, ammunition, explosives and the entrance to a tunnel shaft at the hospital complex, claims that cannot be independently verified.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said, without providing details, that there were “strong indications” hostages may have been held at the Shifa facility.
Israel has not recovered hostages at the hospital but said it found the bodies of two kidnapped women not far away.
The remains of kidnapped woman soldier Noa Marciano, 19, were found at “a structure adjacent to Al-Shifa hospital” on Friday, a day after the body of 65-year-old Yehudit Weiss was recovered.
Those held hostage range from infants to octogenarians, and there has been little information on their fate despite ongoing negotiations mediated by Qatar and Egypt to secure releases.
In Gaza, more than 1.5 million people have been internally displaced, and Israel’s blockade has left civilians facing the “immediate possibility of starvation”, according to World Food Programme head Cindy McCain.
More than half of Gaza’s hospitals are no longer functional due to combat, damage or shortages, and people are waiting four to six hours for half the normal portion of bread.
Knocks as Lagos church invites Portable, Pasuma to praise night
A branch of the Celestial Church of Christ in Lagos is facing criticism following the announcement of its praise night event featuring Pasuma, a Fuji singer, and the controversial musician, Portable.
The event flyer, shared on the church’s Facebook page on November 29, 2023, prompted an outcry from numerous users.
Scheduled for December 15, the event drew shock from multiple Facebook users who condemned the church for inviting secular artistes to a praise night.
The church’s post reads: “JOIN US ON 15th OF DEC, 2023”
“As We Celebrate our 7th-year Anniversary on Our ANKARA / PRAISE NIGHT.
“Performing: ALHAJI WASIU ALABI PASUMA a.k.a Oganla,’ ‘HABEEB OLALOMI a.k.a Portable,’ ‘MAY-SHUA,’ ‘EVANG. SUNDAY GP a.k.a De Governor.”
Expressing disappointment, Bolanle Bamidele Adewuyi commented, “This is disheartening… Is this what you turn the Church of God to? It’s hilarious.”
Edafe Oghenebrume labeled the move as sacrilegious, expressing dismay and questioning the spiritual direction of the church leaders and congregation.
“This is a sacrilege in the Celestial Church of Christ. It is disheartening, pathetic, shameful and disgraceful. I wonder about the spiritual orientation of your Shepherd-In-Charge and the congregation.”
Festus Olanrewaji Ojo criticized the decision, emphasizing, “This is a shame! Shame and a very big shame.”
Becky Wunmi Hassan Ayoade expressed concern about the direction of the church, stating, “There is nothing they will not turn celestial church to”.
Ayo Ife humorously remarked, “The artists are not complete yet. Una for kuku add Naira Marley So that the soul winning can complete! Eku ishe oluwa sir.”
However, amidst the criticism, some users expressed eagerness to attend.
Abike Ade affirmed, “I’ll definitely be there.”
Meanwhile, Abike Garment commented, “I must be there make I come dance away my sorrow.”
Kogi guber poll: I won’t challenge election result at tribunal — Dino Melaye
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the just concluded Kogi State Governorship election, Senator Dino Melaye has announced his decision not to seek legal redress following his electoral loss.
Melaye, who made his decision known at a media briefing in Abuja, on Wednesday, said his decision was hinged on the fact that the judiciary has allegedly become an arm of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
According to him, it is now public knowledge that the judiciary under the current administration has become the “lost hope” instead of the “last hope” of the common man.
Melaye noted that it was a shame that the judiciary watched helplessly as members of the ruling party boasted of their control over the judiciary during campaigns.
Family dissociates Adedoyin from Osun govt, chief justice face-off
The family of Rahman Adedoyin has, for the umpteenth time, dissociated their patriarch, Rahman Adedoyin from the ongoing face-off between the government , Osun judiciary workers and Chief Justice, Justice Oyebola Adepele-Ojo.
In statement titled, “RE: OSUN CJ REMOVAL: DO NOT USE DR. RAHMAN ADEDOYIN’S CASE AS AN EXCUSE OR DEFENCE AGAINST CORRUPT ALLEGATIONS,” signed by the Director, Media & Publicity of Adedoyin Conglomerate,
Dr Kunle Awojoodu on behalf of the family, condemns what it called as attempt to drag Adedoyin into lingering face-off between the state government and chief judge, Hon Justice O.A. Ojo.
The statement reads: “Attention of the family of Dr Rahman Adedoyin has been drawn to various write ups in various media: social and print by some faceless people trying to drag Dr Adedoyin into the face-off between the Chief Judge of Osun, Hon Justice O.A. Ojo , and the Osun State Government as well as the Osun Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria.
“It is highly disheartening that some elements within the society could, simply, for selfish and face saving reasons, descend so low to the abyss of pedestrianism alleging that it is because of Dr Adedoyin’s case that Governor Adeleke of Osun State is pitched against the CJ and, at the same time, being called to account by the Osun State law makers, when the allegations laid against the CJ before the Osun State House of Assembly contain nothing as such.
“It indubitably smacks of unwarranted malice and sheer hypocrisy that anyone could level this type of mischievous allegation against Dr Adedoyin, (a renowned educationist, a business mogul and one of the major employers of labour in Osun State) who has never been a politician, has no nexus with politics or sought any political contract whatsoever, in their attempt to curry undue public advantage/sympathy or circumvent unavertable responsibilities.
“We, as the family, believe in the rule of law and due process of the law and has never, at any point in time, approached any individual, group of persons, traditional rulers, politicians or anyone at all to subvert the cause of justice. We strongly believe that the impartial court would eventually do justice in the case.
“Unfortunately, our hope was dashed when our patriarch, Dr Ramon Adedoyin was convicted and hurriedly condemned in spite of absence or non existent of an iota of evidence linking him either to the hurriedly and belatedly added charge of murder or any of the earlier charges whatsoever.
“As law abiding citizens, we decided to choose the path of legality and constitutionality by seeking true justice at the appellate Court.
” It is therefore illegal, immoral, and unconstitutional for anyone to link the current imbroglio vis a vis the State Government, the protesting staff of the State Judiciary and the embattled CJ, Hon Justice Ojo Adepele to a case that is still pending at appeal, in order to score cheap political points or personal propaganda.’
The family said Dr Adedoyin does not know and has never met the Governor of Osun State.
It stated further, “Nevertheless, for our family decorum and maturity, we reserve our comments on the demands of one Aliyu and a Yoruba Monarch about Justice Adepele Ojo’s circumstantial evidence by which she hurriedly pronounced the guilt of Dr.Adedoyin without required pieces of evidence.
“Without mincing words, the family strongly dissociates itself from unfounded rumours being peddled and negatively marketed, as usual, to this horrible effect.”
Adedoyin’s family, however, vehemently advised those who take delight in stoking fire in the crisis in the State, especially within the media, to leave Dr Adedoyin and his family alone and “rather explore possibility of a defence via due process of the law. It must be sounded as a point of warning that resorting to cheap blackmail or any pretentious linkage with our family or any member thereof will amount to an ill wind that will legally blow them no good,” the statement said.
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