The largest hospital in Gaza Al-Shifa in ruins after the Israeli siege

Israel accuses Hamas and another extremist group, Palestinian Jihad, of insisting on fighting inside medical wards, planting explosives and setting fire to hospital buildings.

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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

Al-Shifa, by far the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip, was left in ruins after a two-week siege by the Israeli army.

While Hamas-run Palestinian sources claim dozens of civilian bodies have been found, and local residents say an entire neighborhood around the hospital has been leveled, Israel says the operation was a success, killing 200 "terrorists", capturing more than 500 and finding weapons. and "hospital-wide" intelligence.

The Israeli military said it raided al-Shifa because Hamas had regrouped there and was using it as one of its bases.

Israel accuses Hamas and another extremist group, Palestinian Jihad, of insisting on fighting inside medical wards, planting explosives and setting fire to hospital buildings.

The two-week operation led to intense fighting and Israeli airstrikes on nearby buildings and the surrounding area.

In photos and videos after the withdrawal of Israeli forces, Palestinians can be seen watching the burned main hospital buildings and carrying bodies wrapped in blankets.

Corpses can also be seen, partially uncovered among the ruins.


Check out footage of what's left of the hospital:


The Hamas-run health ministry said dozens of bodies, some of them decomposed, were found in and around the medical complex, which is now "completely out of use".

A doctor told AFP that more than 20 bodies had been recovered, some crushed by combat vehicles as they left.

Israeli forces used bulldozers to excavate the grounds of the compound and exhume buried bodies, a spokesman for Gaza's Hamas-run civil emergency service said.

The Hamas government's media office announced that Israeli forces killed 400 Palestinians in Al-Shifa and the surrounding area, including two doctors - a mother and a son.

Reuters

The Israeli army claims it made "special efforts not to harm any patient, any member of the medical staff or any civilian in the area".

"The patients who remained in the compound were given medical supplies and water," added Daniel Hagari, a spokesman for the Israeli army.

He added that 200 people whom he described as "terrorists" were killed.

More than 900 people were detained, more than 500 of whom, he said, were later found to be linked to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad - which Israel, Britain and other countries have designated as terrorist organizations.

Interrogating the suspects yielded "valuable intelligence," he added.

Earlier, the Israeli army said that they "found large quantities of weapons, intelligence documents throughout the hospital, that they encountered terrorists engaged in fighting, and that Israeli soldiers were careful not to injure patients and medical staff."

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday evening that 21 patients had died, with patients being moved several times and kept without medical care.

Doctor Amira al-Safadi from al-Shifa told the BBC that around 16 people who were in the intensive care unit died after being moved because she and other doctors no longer had the equipment to treat them.

Three days later, the soldiers told the medical staff to bury them outside, she said.

The BBC has sought comment from the Israeli military on the claims.

The response stated that troops had set up temporary infrastructure for treatment in Al-Shifa, and the video showed soldiers setting up a small number of beds.

Patient Bara al-Shawish told Reuters that the Israeli soldiers denied them food, or rather that they allowed them only "a very small amount of food."

"We were left without treatment, without medicine, without food, and the bombing did not stop," he said.

Some of the patients were transferred to Al-Ahli Hospital, about three kilometers to the southeast, a doctor from Al-Shifa told Reuters.

EPA

Hospitals in Gaza are one of the main battlegrounds of the current war, with thousands of Palestinians seeking shelter from Israeli bombardment.

Israeli forces raid hospitals, claiming that Hamas fighters are there.

Israel has long accused Hamas of using civilian health infrastructure as a front to launch combat operations, which the group denies.

Two weeks ago, it took hundreds of Israeli forces only a few hours to approach and enter the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip.

It was markedly different from the first, controversial attack on the hospital in November, when it took several weeks for large numbers of tanks and vehicles, backed by heavy airstrikes, to approach the site.

For supporters of the Israeli army, this was a testament to the success it had achieved during the war and its tactical success, launching a surprise attack on the enemy to hit them hard.

An Israeli army spokesman previously called the operation "one of the most successful of the war so far" because of the intelligence gathered, as well as the number of people killed and captured.


Watch the video: BBC inside one of the biggest Hamas tunnels in the Gaza Strip


However, some commentators suggest that the second attack on Al-Shifa Hospital points to the failings of Israeli military strategy.

They argue that it shows the ease with which Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters were able to regroup after Israel withdrew its forces from northern Gaza and points to the urgent need to come up with a convincing post-war plan to govern the territory.

Gaza's Ministry of Health appealed on Monday for international aid to restore medical care at Nasser Hospital in the southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis.

The largest hospital in southern Gaza has been out of business since the Israeli army invaded it in February.

The war began when Hamas fighters invaded southern Israel on October 7, killing about 1.200 people and taking 253 hostages, according to Israeli reports.

About 130 hostages are still in captivity, of which at least 34 are believed to be dead.

More than 32.800 Palestinians have been killed and 75.000 wounded and injured in Gaza since Israel launched a reprisal attack by Palestinian extremists, the Hamas-run health ministry said.

They claim that 70 percent of those killed are children and women.


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