Middle East crisis live: Israel withdraws from al-Shifa hospital in Gaza | Israel-Gaza war


Israel withdraws from al-Shifa hospital area

Israeli forces say they have withdrawn from Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital after a two-week operation.

It said the raid of what had been the enclave’s biggest hospital before the war had been conducted “while preventing harm to civilians, patients and medical teams”.

Earlier, the Gaza health ministry and Palestinian residents said the Israeli military had withdrawn tanks and vehicles from the complex housing the al-Shifa hospital, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

After a two week raid, an AFP journalist and eyewitnesses saw tanks and vehicles pulling out.

Israel has described the raid as one of the most successful operations of the nearly six-month war.

The army said it had killed about 200 militants in fighting in and around al-Shifa, and that it seized weapons and valuable intelligence.

Israel has accused Hamas of using hospitals for military purposes and has raided several medical facilities. Hamas denies using medical sites to carry out military operations.

The Israeli army has been accused of recklessly endangering civilians and of decimating a health sector already overwhelmed because of the war.

21 patients have died since the hospital came under siege on 18 March. Hostilities continue around the hospital according to updates from Al-Shifa hospital in #Gaza reported by a health worker inside the hospital.

107 patients are in an inadequate building, within the hospital…

— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) March 31, 2024

The World Health Organization has said 21 patients have died in al-Shifa in the past two weeks, and said yesterday that over 100 patients requiring care needed to urgently be moved to safety amid unsanitary conditions.

“Among the patients are 4 children and 28 critical patients lacking necessary means of care – no diapers, urine bags, water to clean wounds. Many have infected wounds and are dehydrated,” the WHO’s head, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, wrote on X on Sunday.

“Since yesterday only one bottle of water remains for every 15 people. Contagious diseases are spreading due to extremely unsanitary conditions, and a lack of water.”

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Key events

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a senior Israeli military spokesperson, said Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad group had established their main northern headquarters inside the al-Shifa hospital, which the Israeli military pulled out from earlier.

He described days of close-quarters fighting inside different buildings, and blamed Hamas for the destruction, saying some fighters had barricaded themselves inside hospital wards while others launched mortar rounds at the compound.

He said the troops had arrested about 900 suspected militants during the raid, including more than 500 Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters, and seized over $3m in different currencies, as well as weapons. These claims are yet to be independently verified.

He denied that any civilians had been harmed by Israeli forces, saying the army had evacuated more than 200 of the estimated 300 to 350 patients and delivered food, water and medical supplies to the rest, according to the Associated Press.

Gaza is facing deepening anarchy as the last remnants of civil order break down, leaving a vacuum increasingly filled by armed gangs, clans, powerful families and criminals, dozens of interviews with senior aid officials, experts and people in the territory reveal.

The interviewees described the continuing threat of famine and bombardment by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) but also a brutal new world in which guns, knives and intimidation often determine who gets desperately needed humanitarian assistance.

The five-month Israeli military offensive has removed Hamas from power in most of Gaza but the Islamist militant group has not been replaced by any other form of governance. Systematic targeting of Gaza’s police force, which Israel considers part of Hamas, and the release of hundreds of prisoners from jails by the group early in the conflict have exacerbated the chaos.

You can read the full story here:

Mohammed Mahdi, a resident, has described a scene of “total destruction” around the site of the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, after Israeli troops pulled out of the medicial facility following a two-week military operation.

He told the Associated Press that several buildings had been burned down and that he had counted six bodies in the area, including two in the hospital courtyard. This claim has not been independently verified by the Guardian.

Video footage circulating online showed heavily damaged and charred buildings, mounds of dirt that had been churned up by bulldozers and patients on stretchers in darkened corridors.

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. He said army bulldozers had plowed over a makeshift cemetery in Shifa’s courtyard.

“The situation is indescribable,” he said. “The occupation destroyed all sense of life here.”

A general view shows the destruction in the area surrounding Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital after the Israeli military withdrew from the complex housing the hospital. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
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Tens of thousands of Israeli protesters call for Netanyahu’s removal

Thousands of people took to the streets of Jerusalem for a second consecutive night on Sunday, calling for greater efforts to free the hostages held in Gaza and the ousting of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

The protesters in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Be’er Sheva, Caesarea and other cities on Saturday – and at a further demonstration outside the Knesset in Jerusalem on Sunday – demanded the release of those still held captive in Gaza after close to six months, and labelled Netanyahu an “obstacle to the deal”, vowing to persist until he leaves power.

The families of hostages have urged ministers, including Netanyahu’s political rival and war cabinet minister Benny Gantz, to unite with other MKs in removing Netanyahu from power, accusing the PM of deliberately sabotaging efforts to secure the release of their relatives.

According to Israel, 253 Israelis and foreigners were kidnapped by Hamas on 7 October. Of those taken, about 130 remain unaccounted for.

Tens of thousands of Israeli protesters attend a demonstration outside the Knesset, the parliament, in Jerusalem, calling for Benjamin Netanyahu to resign. Photograph: Debbie Hill/UPI/REX/Shutterstock
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Opening summary

Welcome to our continuing live coverage of Israel’s war in Gaza and the wider Middle East crisis.

Israel has confirmed that its forces have withdrawn from Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital after a two-week operation there.

Earlier, Palestinian residents reported that the Israeli military had withdrawn and the Gaza health ministry also said the IDF had withdrawn tanks and vehicles from the complex housing the hospital, Agence France-Presse (AFP) said.

More on that in a moment but first, here is a summary of the latest developments:

  • Talks aimed at brokering a truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip resumed in Cairo on Sunday, but Hamas, the militant Palestinian group, were reportedly not present as it waited to hear from mediators on whether a new Israeli offer was on the table. Egypt, Qatar and the US have mediated previous rounds of negotiations, but a workable agreement has remained elusive.

  • Israel’s Red Sea port city of Eilat came under an aerial attack on Monday that caused no casualties, the military said, with an Iranian-backed armed group in Iraq issuing a claim of responsibility. The military’s statement said a flying object launched from east of Israel had struck a building in Eilat. There was no interception by air defences, it said. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a militia, later said it had attacked a “vital objective” in Israel “using appropriate weapons”.

  • Israel has given the UN a proposal to dismantle Unrwa, its relief agency in the Palestinian territories, and transfer its staff to a replacement agency to make large-scale food deliveries into Gaza, according to UN sources. The proposal was presented late last week by the Israeli chief of the general staff, Lt Gen Herzi Halevi, to UN officials in Israel, who forwarded it to the organisation’s secretary general, António Guterres, on Saturday, sources familiar with the discussions said.

  • An Israeli airstrike hit a tent camp in the courtyard of a crowded hospital in central Gaza on Sunday, according to reports. An associated press reporter filmed the strike and aftermath at al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al-Balah, where thousands of people have sheltered. The Israeli military said it struck a command centre of the Islamic Jihad militant group and claimed the hospital’s functioning was not affected. “The command centre and terrorists were struck precisely, intended on minimising harm to uninvolved civilians in the area of the hospital,” the military said.

  • The strike at al-Aqsa hospital was witnessed by a World Health Organization team sent there to assess needs and to collect incubators for the north of Gaza, WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in a post on X. “Four people were killed and 17 injured. WHO staff are all accounted for.” He gave no details of the victims. Several journalists were reportedly injured in the strike.

  • Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has undergone a “successful” hernia surgery, according to a statement from his office. Netanyahu was “in good shape and beginning to recover”, AFP reports. Doctors discovered the hernia on Saturday and Netanyahu had the surgery after completing his daily schedule, his office said.

  • The United States and Israel are expected to hold a virtual meeting on Monday to discuss the Biden administration’s alternative proposals to an Israeli military invasion of Rafah, Axios reported on Sunday citing three Israeli and US officials.

  • At least 32,782 Palestinians have been killed and 75,298 injured in Israeli strikes on Gaza since 7 October, the Gaza health ministry said in a statement.

  • A bomb exploded in a shopping area in a northern Syrian city held by pro-Turkish forces on Sunday morning, killing eight people and injuring more than 20 others, a war monitor said. At least “eight people were killed and 23 others wounded” when “a car bomb exploded in the middle of a popular market” in Aleppo province’s Azaz, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It is unclear who carried out the attack in the town which is run by pro-Turkish militias fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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Israel withdraws from al-Shifa hospital area

Israeli forces say they have withdrawn from Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital after a two-week operation.

It said the raid of what had been the enclave’s biggest hospital before the war had been conducted “while preventing harm to civilians, patients and medical teams”.

Earlier, the Gaza health ministry and Palestinian residents said the Israeli military had withdrawn tanks and vehicles from the complex housing the al-Shifa hospital, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

After a two week raid, an AFP journalist and eyewitnesses saw tanks and vehicles pulling out.

Israel has described the raid as one of the most successful operations of the nearly six-month war.

The army said it had killed about 200 militants in fighting in and around al-Shifa, and that it seized weapons and valuable intelligence.

Israel has accused Hamas of using hospitals for military purposes and has raided several medical facilities. Hamas denies using medical sites to carry out military operations.

The Israeli army has been accused of recklessly endangering civilians and of decimating a health sector already overwhelmed because of the war.

21 patients have died since the hospital came under siege on 18 March. Hostilities continue around the hospital according to updates from Al-Shifa hospital in #Gaza reported by a health worker inside the hospital.

107 patients are in an inadequate building, within the hospital…

— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) March 31, 2024

The World Health Organization has said 21 patients have died in al-Shifa in the past two weeks, and said yesterday that over 100 patients requiring care needed to urgently be moved to safety amid unsanitary conditions.

“Among the patients are 4 children and 28 critical patients lacking necessary means of care – no diapers, urine bags, water to clean wounds. Many have infected wounds and are dehydrated,” the WHO’s head, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, wrote on X on Sunday.

“Since yesterday only one bottle of water remains for every 15 people. Contagious diseases are spreading due to extremely unsanitary conditions, and a lack of water.”

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