Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital in ruins after Israeli troops withdraw

Israeli forces have withdrawn from Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City after a two-week operation, the Israeli military said on Monday, leaving behind a wasteland of destroyed buildings and Palestinian bodies scattered in the dirt of the complex.

Hundreds of residents rushed to the area around the Gaza Strip’s largest hospital to check on damage to the surrounding residential districts after fighting between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group that administers Gaza.

The Israeli military said it had killed and detained hundreds of gunmen in clashes in the area of the hospital, and seized weaponry and intelligence documents. Hamas and medical staff deny that Palestinian fighters have any armed presence in hospitals.

A spokesperson for Gaza’s Civil Emergency Service said Israeli forces had executed two people whose bodies were found at the complex in handcuffs, and used bulldozers to dig up the grounds of the complex and exhume buried bodies.

Destruction in the area surrounding Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital.
A general view shows the destruction in the area surrounding Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital on Monday. (AFP/Getty Images)

Reuters could not verify the allegation of executions and Israel’s military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Footage circulated on social media and not yet verified by Reuters showed the bodies of dead Palestinians, some covered in dirty blankets, scattered on the ground around the charred hulk of the hospital building, many of whose outer walls were missing.

It showed the grounds heavily plowed up, and numerous buildings outside the facility either flattened or burned down.

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“I haven’t stopped crying since I arrived here, horrible massacres were committed by the occupation here,” said Samir Basel, 43, speaking to Reuters via a chat app as he toured Al-Shifa.

“The place is destroyed, buildings have been burnt and destroyed. This place needs to be rebuilt — there is no Shifa hospital anymore,” Basel said.

Israel said operations inside Al-Shifa had been conducted “while preventing harm to civilians, patients and medical teams.”

Palestinians inspect the damage at Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital.
Palestinians inspect the damage at the complex housing the hospital on Monday. (AFP/Getty Images)

The military has described the raid as one of the most successful operations of the nearly six-month war, saying it killed scores of Hamas and other militants, as well as seizing valuable intelligence.

The war was triggered by Hamas-led attacks on southern Israel on Oct. 7 when 1,200 people were killed, according to Israeli tallies, including several Canadians.

The Israeli government believes some 130 of 250 hostages remain in Gaza since October, but that at least 31 were dead. Over 100 people were repatriated in exchanges for Palestinian prisoners late last year.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel has responded with an air and ground assault that according to Gaza’s authorities has killed more than 32,700 Palestinians. The war has displaced most of the enclave’s 2.3 million people and reduced much of it to rubble.

The Israeli military says it has killed over 13,000 Hamas fighters, and blames the civilian death toll on Palestinian militants because they fight in dense residential areas.


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