Heavy destruction, forced marches in ongoing Israeli raid around Al-Shifa hospital

AP , Sunday 24 Mar 2024

Palestinians who fled during an ongoing Israeli raid in and around Al-Shifa, the Gaza Strip's main hospital, described days of heavy fighting, mass arrests, forced marches past dead bodies, and flattened buildings in interviews Sunday.

A man carries children injured in Israeli bombardment, at the al-Najjar hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 24, 2024. AFP


Jameel al-Ayoubi, who was among thousands of people sheltering at Al-Shifa when the Israeli raid commenced last Monday, said in a phone interview that tanks and armored bulldozers had plowed into the courtyard of the sprawling medical compound, crushing ambulances and civilian vehicles.

He said he saw tanks driving over at least four bodies of people killed early in the raid.

The Health Ministry said five wounded Palestinians trapped at Al-Shifa had died without food, water, or medical services. The World Health Organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, described the conditions there as “utterly inhumane.”

Abed Radwan, who lived some 200 meters (yards) from the hospital, said Israeli forces stormed all the buildings in the area, detaining several people and forcing the rest to march south. As he walked south with others, he saw dead bodies in the streets and several flattened homes.

“They left nothing intact,” he said in an interview from a relative’s house in central Gaza.

Kareem Ayman Hathat, who lived with his parents and two brothers in a five-story building about 100 meters (yards) from the hospital, said they huddled in the kitchen for days while gunfire and explosions echoed outside, sometimes causing the whole building to shake.

Early Saturday, Israeli troops stormed the building and forced them and dozens of other residents to leave. He says the men were forced to strip to their underwear and four were detained. The rest were blindfolded and ordered to follow a tank south, as more blasts thundered around them.

“From time to time, the tank would fire a shell,” he told The Associated Press in an interview from another hospital in central Gaza, where he has sought shelter. “It was to terrorize us.”

The Israeli army claimed it has killed over 170 resistance fighters and detained some 480 suspects in the raid on Al-Shifa Hospital that began last Monday.

But the heavy fighting has also highlighted the resilience of Palestinian armed groups in an isolated and heavily destroyed part of Gaza where troops have been forced to return after launching a similar raid back in November.

Gaza City, where Shifa is located, suffered widespread devastation in the early days of Israel's offensive. Israeli forces have isolated the city and the rest of northern Gaza since November, and hardly any aid has been delivered in recent weeks.

Experts said last week that famine is imminent in northern Gaza, where over 210,000 people are suffering from catastrophic hunger.



Short link: