Israel assault on Shifa hospital: Accounts of brutality and terror unfold

AFP , Ahram Online , Wednesday 15 Nov 2023

Hours after Israeli troops stormed through the gates of Gaza's biggest hospital in the night, Israeli soldiers interrogated patients in the compound's courtyard while other Palestinians stood stripped to their underwear.

In this image taken from a video released by the Israeli army on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2023, Israeli soldiers walk in the area of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. AP


"All men 16 years and above, raise your hands," a soldier shouted in accented Arabic through a loudspeaker at those sheltering inside Al-Shifa hospital, which has been at the centre of Israeli airstrikes for days.

"Exit the building towards the courtyard and surrender," the soldier ordered, according to a journalist who visited the embattled hospital several days ago for interviews and was trapped inside because of the bombardment outside.

About 1,000 male Palestinians, their hands above their heads, were soon led into the vast hospital courtyard, some of them stripped naked by Israeli soldiers, the journalist told AFP, a s they were ordered by Israeli soldiers to strip down to their underwear, before being interrogated.

Hours later, some 200 remained in their underwear, forced to stand beside tanks used in the military raid into the medical facility.

The Israeli military has acted brutally during its assault on Wednesday, visiting violence and humiliation on patients, staff and displaced people, those inside the hospital told Al Jazeera.

Witnesses have described conditions inside the hospital as horrific, with medical procedures performed without anaesthetic, families with scant food or water living in corridors, and the stench of decomposing corpses filling the air.

As Israeli forces raced through the corridors, hundreds of people emerged from different wards, including the maternity section, which was hit in an Israeli strike a few days ago.

The Israeli artillery shelling on Wednesday also hit patient rooms at the hospital, the Ministry of Health said.

Soldiers fired random shots as they moved from room to room searching women and children, some of whom were in tears.

Doctors Without Borders said that people attempting to flee Al-Shifa hospital are "at the mercy of gunfire, shelling and fire from drones."

Tanks in hospital complex

According to the Health ministry, more than 11,500 people, including 4,710 children, have been killed in an intense Israeli bombardment and ground invasion of the Palestinian territory.

Ahmed El Mokhallalati, a surgeon, told Al Jazeera from inside the hospital that the occupying army brought tanks within the hospital after “continuous, aggressive gunshots, bombardments and attacks.

Israeli troops entered the main emergency department and several other wards.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the journalist at Al-Shifa said soldiers were still moving between hospital departments and questioning wounded people and their companions.

"More than 180 dead bodies are deteriorating and are still lying in the hospital’s yard,” he said. “The situation is very terrifying, gunshots are heard everywhere in the hospital’s perimeters," Omar Zaqout, an emergency room employee at al-Shifa said.

The Palestinian government accused the Israeli army of committing a "war crime and crime against humanity," as Israeli forces encircled the hospital complex over the past few days.

The United Nations said earlier that at least 2,300 people -- patients, staff and displaced civilians -- were inside and may be unable to escape because of the fierce fighting.

Citing the health ministry in Gaza, UN humanitarian agency OCHA said 40 patients had died in Al-Shifa on Tuesday.

The hospital director Mohammad Abu Salmiya said that 179 bodies had been buried in a mass grave inside the complex.


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