The Israeli military said on Wednesday that it is conducting what it calls a "precise and targeted operation" against the Islamic group Hamas in a specified area of Al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip.
Israel says Hamas has a command center underneath Al-Shifa, the largest hospital in Gaza -- a claim that Hamas denies. Israeli military commanders are calling on Hamas fighters there to surrender.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby also said Hamas and another group "operate a command-and-control node" from Al-Shifa, and use the facility to hold hostages and store weapons.
Referring to Kirby's remarks, Hamas said, "These statements give a green light to the Israeli occupation to commit further brutal massacres targeting hospitals, with the goal of destroying Gaza's healthcare system and displacing Palestinians."
The Israeli military has been carrying out intense attacks around the hospital. Health authorities in Gaza say patients and people taking shelter in the hospital are unable to evacuate. They also said electricity, water and food are running out.
According to a UN agency, more than 600 patients and about 1,500 other residents are in the hospital.