"We Don't Want To See
Al-Shifa hospital has been the focal point of days of fighting in Israel's war with Hamas. (File)
Hospitals and the patients inside them "must be protected," the White House said late Tuesday when asked about an operation by its ally Israel, which has sent troops into Gaza's largest hospital, Al-Shifa.
The White House "won't speak to the specifics of an ongoing Israeli military operation," a spokesperson from the National Security Council said when asked about military move into Al-Shifa, where Israel says Palestinian group Hamas has a command center hidden beneath thousands of ailing and sheltering civilians.
"As we've said, we do not support striking a hospital from the air and we don't want to see a firefight in a hospital where innocent people, helpless people, sick people trying to get medical care they deserve are caught in the crossfire. Hospitals and patients must be protected," the spokesperson continued.
The statement came after US President Joe Biden spoke with Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu earlier Tuesday, apparently before the Israeli operation into Al-Shifa was announced.
The operation was not discussed during that call, which the White House said in an earlier statement had focused on efforts to free hostages held by Hamas.
Al-Shifa hospital has been the focal point of days of fighting and nearby aerial bombardments in Israel's war with Hamas.
Thousands of patients, staff and displaced civilians are believed to be inside the hospital complex, according to local officials.
Witnesses have described conditions as horrific, with medical procedures taking place without anesthetic, families with scant food or water living in corridors, and the stench of decomposing corpses filling the air.
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