Israel launches military assault on al-Shifa hospital in Gaza | World | News


Israeli forces launched a night-time operation at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital. Reports say tanks and loud gunfire were heard at the medical centre.

A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they were conducting a “high precision operation in limited areas” of the hospital.

The IDF believes that “senior Hamas terrorists have regrouped” at the facility and are using it as a base to attack from. Eyewitnesses described a state of panic inside the hospital.

 

One person caught in the middle told his brother on a WhatsApp call: “Tanks are surrounding us. We are hiding inside the tent. We hear tank fire in the vicinity of the compound.”

Unverified videos on social media show gunshots near to the hospital, reports the BBC. Muhammad Al-Sayyid, who was inside, sent out a voice message to reporters saying: “The soldiers here inside the complex there are dead and wounded, and the soldiers arrested some young men. The situation here is catastrophic.”

It is understood the IDF did not give prior warning of the operation at al-Shifa. IDF chief spokesperson Rear Adm Daniel Hagari said in a video that they had to act fast due to the intelligence they received.

He also said the hospital could keep treating people while the raid was being carried out and that patients and workers didn’t need to leave.

People seeking shelter at the complex can exit the hospital via an evacuation route, he confirmed, after asking Hamas to “surrender immediately”.

Hamas’ Gaza health department described the act as a “flagrant violation of international humanitarian law” in an official statement. Several hundred Palestinians who have been displaced are taking refuge in the hospital, which Israeli forces raided earlier in the conflict.

Before the conflict started, al-Shifa hospital was known as Gaza’s largest healthcare facility. Under international humanitarian law, hospitals hold a protected status during hostilities.

However, they can lose this protection if used to commit an “act harmful to the enemy”.

Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of utilising health centres as covers for its operations – allegations the Iranian-backed group refutes.

The IDF claims it found a network of tunnels underneath the al-Shifa hospital during a raid in November. It also said weaponry was found in the building.

Israeli troops also embarked on a significant military mission at Nasser Hospital, which is Gaza’s second-largest medical facility, in February.

Reports of doctors being captured, blindfolding and beaten during the raid prompted UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron to demand “answers from the Israelis”.



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