Israeli troops entered Gaza’s biggest hospital on Wednesday and were searching its rooms and basement, witnesses said, culminating a days-long siege that caused global alarm over the fate of thousands of civilians trapped inside.
Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City has become the main target of the ground operation by Israeli forces, who say Hamas fighters have the “beating heart” of their operations in a headquarters in tunnels beneath it, which Hamas denies.
Israel said its troops uncovered unspecified weapons and “terror infrastructure” inside the hospital compound after killing fighters in a clash outside. Once inside, they said there had been no fighting and no friction with civilians, patients or staff.
The military released photos of a soldier standing beside cardboard boxes marked “medical supplies” and “baby food” in English, at a location Reuters verified was inside the grounds. Other photos showed Israeli troops in tactical formation walking past makeshift tents and mattresses.
World attention has been focused on the fate of hundreds of patients trapped inside without power to operate basic medical equipment, and thousands of displaced civilians who had sought shelter there. Gaza officials say many patients including three newborn babies died in recent days as a result of Israel’s encirclement of the facility.
Earlier, the Israeli military said it was carrying out a raid against Hamas in Al Shifa Hospital, having urged them to surrender with thousands of Palestinian civilians still sheltering inside Gaza Strip’s biggest hospital.
Dr. Munir al-Bursh, director-general of the Gaza health ministry, told Al Jazeera television that Israeli forces had raided the western side of the medical complex.
Here are the latest updates
- More than 11,300 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza since October 7. In Israel, the official death toll from Hamas’s attacks stands at more than 1,200.
- Israel says it is carrying out an “operation” against Hamas at al-Shifa Hospital as its forces raid the health complex in Gaza City.
- A doctor inside al-Shifa says the Israeli raid has spurred fear among patients, displaced people and health workers at the facility.
- Hamas denies it is using hospitals in Gaza, such as al-Shifa, as command centers, accusing Israel and the United States of trying to justify “brutal massacres”.
- Malaysia’s Defence Minister Haji Mohamad bin Haji Hasan has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
- The Israeli prime minister hit out at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who on Tuesday delivered his strongest comments on Israel’s actions in Gaza since the war began but still stopped short of calling for a ceasefire.
- Trudeau earlier told reporters that the “human tragedy” in Gaza was “heart-wrenching”, particularly around al-Shifa Hospital. -Izzat al-Risheq, a member of Hamas’s political bureau, has called the Israeli attempt to portray its raid on al-Shifa as an accomplishment “juvenile politics and an open ploy”.