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Netanyahu says Hamas refused Israeli fuel offer for Gaza's Shifa hospital

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu holds a press conference in Tel Aviv

(Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel had offered fuel to Gaza's Al Shifa hospital, which suspended operations after running out of fuel, but that the militants had refused to receive it.

Netanyahu was asked by NBC News whether Israeli allegations that Hamas had a command post under Gaza's main hospital justified jeopardizing the lives of sick people and babies.

"On the contrary, we offered actually, last night, to give them enough fuel to operate the hospital, operate the incubators and so on, because we (have) no battle with patients or civilians at all," Netanyahu said.

Israel's military said it was ready to evacuate babies from Al Shifa on Sunday, but Palestinian officials said people inside were still trapped, with three newborns dead and dozens at risk from a power outage. Fighting is raging nearby.

Netanyahu was asked if Israel has a plan to get fuel into Gaza to power hospitals. "We just offered Shifa hospital the fuel, they refused it," Netanyahu said.

"Hamas, (which) is hiding in the hospitals and placing itself there, doesn't want the fuel for the hospital ... they want to get fuel that they'll take from the hospitals to their tunnels, to their war machine."

Hamas denies Israeli allegations it has command posts under Shifa and other Gaza hospitals. It had no immediate comment on Netanyahu's remarks.

(Reporting by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)