GENEVA (Reuters) – The biggest hospital in the Gaza Strip was coming under bombardment on Friday, the World Health Organization said, adding that 20 hospitals in Gaza were now out of action entirely.

Asked about the Gaza health ministry’s allegation of an Israeli strike on the courtyard of Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City, WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said: “I haven’t got the detail on Al Shifa but we do know they are coming under bombardment”. Asked to elaborate, she said there was “intense violence” at the site, quoting colleagues on the ground.

Gaza families have been sheltering at the hospital, the territory’s largest, which is inside Gaza City encircled by Israeli troops. Israel says militants have headquarters in the area and has told residents to leave and go south.

At the same briefing, the U.N. humanitarian office said that there had been some “issues” getting aid into Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, which it said had been designed for pedestrians, not trucks. Only 65 trucks carrying food, medicine, hygiene supplies and water, and seven ambulances, crossed from Egypt into Gaza on Wednesday, it said.

None of that aid can reach northern Gaza, he added.

“We cannot drive to the north at the current point which is of course deeply frustrating because we know there are several hundred thousand people who remain in the north,” said OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke.

“If there is a hell on earth today, it’s name is northern Gaza,” he said. “It is a life of fear by day and darkness at night and what do you tell your children in such a situation, it’s almost unimaginable – that the fire they see in the sky is out to kill them?” he said.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Linda Pasquini and Peter Graff)

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