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Israel orders new evacuations in southern Gaza, prompting transfer of hospital patients

<i>Bashar Taleb/AFP/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Displaced Palestinians leave an area in east Khan Younis after the Israeli army issued a new evacuation order for parts of the city and Rafah
Bashar Taleb/AFP/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
Displaced Palestinians leave an area in east Khan Younis after the Israeli army issued a new evacuation order for parts of the city and Rafah

By Kareem Khadder, Abeer Salman, Michael Schwartz and Alex Stambaugh, CNN

(CNN) — The Israeli military issued new evacuation orders on Monday for areas in southern Gaza, including eastern Khan Younis and Rafah. This forced residents, many already displaced, to find new shelter, due to the suggestion of the possibility of another ground operation.

The Gaza European Hospital in Khan Younis, one of the territory’s last standing hospitals, is within the evacuation zone. It has transferred patients, including those in intensive care and babies in incubators, and medical equipment to other facilities “in fear of bloodshed,” according to the hospital’s deputy director and doctors.

“It’s a chaotic scene and very difficult and dire,” Dr. Saleh al Hams, deputy director of Gaza European Hospital in Khan Younis, told CNN. This is his third evacuation, he said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Tuesday that staff at the hospital have performed more than 3,000 surgeries, treated hundreds of burn cases and provided physical rehabilitation to wounded people.

“An ICRC team stayed in the hospital overnight, however the hospital is now unable to continue functioning effectively because so many staff members have evacuated, including medical, nursing, administration and support staff.”

The ICRC said they would now move their team and patients to the Red Cross Field Hospital in Rafah-Mawasi and, once conditions allow, staff will return to EGH and continue to work there.

It said thousands of Palestinians have been displaced following the IDF evacuation orders, stressing there is “no safe place” in Gaza.

Another ground operation in Khan Younis would underscore the difficulties faced by the Israeli military in trying to root out Palestinian militants from Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) withdrew its ground forces from the city in April after months of fierce fighting that left much of it in ruins. After more than eight months of war, militants continue to hold dozens of Israeli hostages and fire rockets at Israel.

Still, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted on Monday that the country’s military is advancing to the “end of the stage of eliminating” Hamas’ army in Gaza and will “continue striking its remnants.” He vowed that Israel would achieve its goals in war: returning the hostages held in Gaza as well as eliminating Hamas’ military and governing capabilities.

On Tuesday, the IDF said that about 20 projectiles were launched from the Khan Younis area toward Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip on Monday, adding that it struck targets in the area from which the projectiles were fired.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad said on Monday that it fired “targeted rockets” at five Israeli communities close to the Gaza border.

On Monday, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) reported that the emergency room at Al Amal Hospital in Khan Younis was overwhelmed with injuries after patients were transferred from the European Hospital following an Israeli military evacuation order for the Al Fukhari area. PRCS said the hospital also received patients from Nasser Hospital, which had similarly become overcrowded with patients from the European Hospital.

In a separate statement, hours after the initial evacuation order, the IDF said the order “does not apply to the patients in the European Hospital or the medical staff working there.”

“There is no intention to evacuate the European Hospital,” the IDF statement added.

Videos posted to social media showed hospital patients on stretchers being moved through nearby streets following the order.

On Tuesday, Louise Wateridge, a spokesperson for the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, who is currently in Gaza, reported a “massive” movement of people from the evacuation zones following the Israeli military’s latest order. The agency anticipates that around 250,000 people will leave the evacuation zones after the latest order.

Meanwhile, Israeli strikes and shelling on Khan Younis continued, with at least eight people killed and 32 injured overnight, according to Nasser hospital.

Desalination plant

Khan Younis is home to a UN-managed water desalination plant that supplies the city as well as Deir al-Balah and al-Mawasi, where scores of displaced Palestinians are residing.

Gaza’s clean water supply decreased significantly after desalination plants were forced to shut down following the siege imposed by the Israeli military in the wake of the Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on October 7.

On Tuesday, COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for coordination with the Palestinian territories, and the IDF said in a joint statement that Israel would connect a new power line directly to the Khan Younis desalination plant to raise the production of drinking water to 20,000 cubic meters from 5,000.

The UN estimated late last year that average water consumption in Gaza dropped to three liters per person per day. The World Health Organization recommends, in emergencies, a minimum of 7.5 liters to 15 liters of water per person per day for survival and hygiene.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Tamar Michaelis, Sugam Pokharel and Mostafa Salem contributed to this report.

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