Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital has been reduced to rubble after a two-week Israeli offensive

Israeli forces have pulled out of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City after a two-week offensive that has left many medical facilities in ruins.

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said dozens of bodies had been found, and residents said neighborhoods had been destroyed.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it killed 200 “terrorists”, arrested 500 others and found weapons and information “throughout the hospital”.

The IDF said it attacked al-Shifa because Hamas had regrouped there.

The two-week operation saw heavy fighting and Israeli airstrikes on nearby homes and surrounding areas.

The wards were attacked because Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives were using them as bases, the IDF said, accusing them of attacking medical departments, setting off explosives and burning medical buildings.

Pictures published after the Israeli withdrawal showed Palestinians walking next to burnt-out buildings with wall pillars missing and bodies wrapped in blankets. Photographs showed the corpses partially visible in the polished surface.

The Ministry of Health has said that many bodies, some decomposing, have been found in and around the medical facility, which is now “defunct”.

A doctor told AFP reporters that more than 20 bodies had been found, some crushed by trucks.

Palestinians carry dead bodies to Shifa

Palestinians say many bodies were found after the Israeli army left [Reuters]

A spokesman for Hamas in Gaza said the Israeli army used bulldozers to dig up the buried bodies and exhume them.

Hamas’ state media said Israeli forces killed 400 Palestinians in al-Shifa and surrounding areas, including a female doctor and her son, who was also a doctor.

In addition, IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the IDF made “special efforts not to harm patients, medical workers, or civilians in the area.

“The patients who remained in the hospital were given medicine and water.”

He also said that 200 people he called “terrorists” had been killed. More than 900 people were arrested, of whom more than 500 were, he said, later found to be affiliated with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad – which Israel, the UK and other countries outlaw as terrorist organisations. The questioning of the suspects yielded “great intelligence”, he added.

Earlier, the IDF said that “the soldiers found a lot of weapons, intelligence documents throughout the hospital, they met the terrorists in close combat and fought and avoided harming the doctors and patients”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Sunday night that 21 patients died, and patients were moved several times and kept without medical treatment.

Dr Amira al-Safady in al-Shifa told BBC Gaza Lifeline that about 16 people in the intensive care unit had died after being evacuated, as she and other doctors no longer had the equipment to treat them.

After three days, the army told the medics to put them out, he said.

The IDF has been contacted for comment. It says the army has set up a temporary hospital in al-Shifa, with a video showing the army setting up a few beds.


The hospital – once the biggest in Gaza – is not working, the Hamas-run health ministry said [Reuters]

Patient Barra al-Shawish told Reuters that Israeli soldiers allowed “very little food”. “There is no treatment, no medicine, nothing, and 24 hours of non-stop bombing and massive destruction in the hospital,” he said.

Some of the patients were transferred to al-Ahli hospital, about 3km (1.8 miles) to the southeast, a doctor in al-Shifa told Reuters.

Hospitals in Gaza have been the focus of the current conflict, with thousands of Palestinians seeking shelter from Israeli bombardments in their properties and the Israeli army seizing them because of alleged Hamas fighters.

Israel has long accused Hamas of using civilian aid as cover to launch its operations, which the group denies.

Two weeks ago, it took hundreds of Israeli soldiers a few hours to reach and enter the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip. This was in stark contrast to their controversial first offensive in November, when it took weeks for dozens of tanks and vehicles, backed by heavy airstrikes, to close in on the area.

For Israel’s military supporters, this has been a testament to the gains it has made during the war and its strategic success, launching surprise attacks on the enemy to strike hard. An IDF spokesman previously referred to the operation as “one of the most successful battles to date” due to the intelligence gained, as well as the numbers killed and captured.

a place of residence near al-Shifaa place of residence near al-Shifa

Large areas around al-Shifa were destroyed [EPA]

However, some authors say that the second attack on al-Shifa shows a flaw in Israel’s military tactics during the war. They say it shows the ease with which Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters have been able to regroup after Israel withdrew its forces from northern Gaza and the urgent need to come up with a definitive post-war plan to govern the region.

On Monday, the Gaza Ministry of Health asked for international assistance to restart medical services at Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza in Khan Younis. The largest hospital in southern Gaza has been out of service since then Israeli forces attacked it in February.

The war began when Hamas fighters entered southern Israel on October 7, killing nearly 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages, according to Israeli officials. About 130 of the hostages are still in captivity, and about 34 of them are thought to be dead.

More than 32,800 Palestinians have been killed and 75,000 injured in Gaza since Israel began its military campaign, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. It is said that 70% of those killed were women and children.

Map showing the main buildings at al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza CityMap showing the main buildings at al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza City


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