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ConflictsMiddle East

Israel withdraws from Gaza's devastated Shifa Hospital

April 1, 2024

Israel hailed the two-week raid on Gaza's main hospital as one of the most successful operations of the war. According to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, multiple bodies were discovered after the troops left.

Palestinians inspect the damage at Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital after the Israeli military withdrew from the complex housing the hospital on April 1, 2024.
Photos of the al-Shifa hospital complex showed heavy destruction, and some charred wallsImage: AFP/Getty Images

The Israeli military withdrew from the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Monday after a two-week raid.

The Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza said the operation left most of the medical complex, the main hospital in the territory, in ruins.

"Dozens of bodies, some of them decomposed, have been recovered from, in and around the Shifa medical complex," the ministry said, adding that the hospital was now "completely out of service."

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed the withdrawal on social media after "completing the operation."

"Troops have completed precise operational activity in the area of the Shifa Hospital and exited the area of the hospital," the military said.

Israeli forces leave main Gaza hospital after two-week siege

Israel says raid was a success

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the operation as precise and surgical.

The IDF described the raid as among the most successful operations during the ground operation in Gaza it launched in the wake of the terror attack by Hamas and other militants in southern Israel on October 7, in which 1,200 people were killed and some 250 hostages taken.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, the top military spokesman, said Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad group had established their main northern headquarters inside the hospital.

Gaza hospital raid complicates cease-fire negotiations: Nawaf Al-Thani

Israeli troops said they seized weapons and a sum of over $3 million (approximately €2.78 million), and arrested some 900 suspected militants during the raid, Hagari said. They reportedly included over 500 Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters.

Hagari denied that any civilians had been harmed by Israeli forces. He said the army had evacuated over 200 of some 300-350 patients in the complex, alongside delivering food, water and medical supplies.

Withdrawal leaves destruction behind

Pictures of the hospital complex and the area surrounding it showed heavy destruction and some charred walls.

The Gaza Health Ministry said several bodies had been found at the complex. A doctor told the French AFP news agency that over 20 bodies had been recovered, some having been crushed by withdrawing vehicles.

"The scale of the destruction inside the complex and the buildings around it is very large," the ministry said, adding that some of the bodies found there had decomposed.

Gazastreifen | Zerstörung al-Shifa Hospital
The Hamas-run health ministry meanwhile painted a picture of destruction following the Israeli military's withdrawal.Image: AFP/Getty Images

Mohammed Mahdi, who was among hundreds of Palestinians who returned to the area, described to the Associated Press news agency a scene of "total destruction." He said several buildings had been burned down.

Another resident, Yahia Abu Auf, said there were still patients, medical workers and displaced people sheltering inside the medical compound after several patients had been taken to the nearby Ahli Hospital.

In a social media statement late on Sunday, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said 21 patients died during the siege, citing a health worker inside the hospital.

"107 patients are in an inadequate building, within the hospital compound, lacking needed health support, medical care and supplies," he said, adding that patients included four children and 28 critical patients who lack the "necessary means of care."

The Health Ministry in Gaza said Monday at least 32,845 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed in the Israel-Hamas war, and a further 75,392 people have been wounded.
Israel has accused the Palestinian, militant group Hamas of using hospitals for military purposes and has raided several health facilities in Gaza. Gaza health officials deny these allegations.

Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by several countries including Israel, the US and Germany.

rmt/lo (AFP, AP, dpa)