Dozens of bodies found Gaza's Shifa hospital, after 2 weeks of Israeli raids - as it happened

Ahram Online , Monday 1 Apr 2024

On the 178th day of Israel's war on Gaza, Palestinian residents said that Israeli forces have withdrawn from Gaza’s main hospital after two weeks of raids, leaving behind, hundreds of bodies of slain civilians and a vast swath of destruction

Palestinians mourn relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip at a hospital morgue in Rafah, Monday, April 1, 2024.AP


Hundreds of palestinians returned to Al-Shifa Hospital and the surrounding area after the Israeli  withdrawal early Monday, where they found bodies inside and outside of the facility.

The government media office said Israeli forces killed 400 Palestinians in Al-Shifa and the surrounding area, including a female doctor and her son, who was also a doctor. 

More than 20 bodies had been recovered, some crushed by withdrawing vehicles, A doctor told AFP news agency.

A spokesperson for civil emergency service said Israeli forces had used bulldozers to dig up the grounds of the complex and exhume buried bodies.

Mohammed Mahdi, who was among those who returned, described a scene of “total destruction.” He said several buildings had been burned down. He counted six bodies in the area, including two in the hospital courtyard.

Another resident, Yahia Abu Auf, said there were still patients, medical workers, and displaced people sheltering inside the medical compound. He said several patients had been taken to the nearby Ahli Hospital.

He said army bulldozers had plowed over a makeshift cemetery inside the hospital compound.


23:00 Israel is ready for the gradual return of Palestinian civilians to the northern Gaza Strip, but opposes withdrawal of troops from the corridor," Axios reported on the talks in Cairo over the captives deal.

"Israel isn't prepared to allow those returning to northern Gaza not to pass an inspection," it added.

Senior Israeli officials claim that the issue of the return of Palestinian civilians to northern Gaza is the main point of contention in the indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

During the War Cabinet meeting on Sunday evening, the ministers agreed to expand the mandate of the Israeli negotiations team concerning the return of Palestinian civilians to the northern Gaza Strip, senior Israeli officials said

"The parameters have been updated regarding the number of Palestinians that Israel is willing to return to the north of the strip every day when the deal is implemented," Axios said quoting a senior Israeli official.

The Israeli official told Axios that the negotiations were continuing today and there was no intention to return the delegation to Israel at this stage.

"The talks in Egypt are important and useful," said the Israeli official.

"There is potential for progress, but it's too early to be optimistic. There are serious talks with the mediators, but we need to see there is a real proposal from Hamas and that Yahya Sinwar is ready to move from his position in light of our flexibility," the official claimed.

22:50 The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the death toll from an Israeli airstrike on an Iranian embassy annex building in Damascus had risen to 11. 

"The death toll from the Israeli strikes on the Iranian embassy annex has risen to 11: eight Iranians, two Syrians and one Lebanese -- all of them fighters, none of them civilians," Rami Abdel-Rahman, who heads the British-based Observatory, claimed.

Meanwhile, Moscow accused Israel of carrying out an "unacceptable" attack on a diplomatic building.

"We strongly condemn this unacceptable attack against the Iranian consular mission in Syria."

"We call on the Israeli leadership to stop provocative acts of armed violence against the territory of Syria and neighbouring countries," the ministry said.

22:03 President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein of Jordan reiterated the necessity of an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, calling on the international community to fulfil its obligations to alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis, including severe famine, caused by the Israeli war.

During a meeting in the Jordanian capital, Amman, both leaders discussed the latest regional developments, especially the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip, and efforts to achieve a ceasefire and provide access for humanitarian and relief aid to enter the besieged Strip.

According to the Egyptian presidency, the meeting underscored the importance of continued coordination and consultation on regional and international developments, with a particular focus on the situation in Gaza.

Furthermore, they both warned against the potentially dire consequences of any Israeli military operation in the Palestinian city of Rafah.

They urged the international community to assume its role to ensure the delivery of sufficient humanitarian aid to alleviate the Palestinians' suffering throughout the strip.

21:58 "Israel's war on Gaza is "a war on children, their education and their futures," Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner-general of UNRWA, reiterated on Monday.

"Since the war began, 13,750 children are reported killed, 17,000 children are unaccompanied or separated, Every day, 10 children lose their legs. ⁠Dozens of children have died due to malnutrition & dehydration," he said in a post on social media.

"⁠Every child in Gaza needs mental health and psychological support."

"Every child has been deprived from #education for nearly 6 months now," the head of the agency for the Palestinian refugees added.

Meanwhile, Israel continues with its calls and pressures to dismantle UNRWA, the largest humanitarian and development organization in Gaza, Lazzarini stated. "Dismantling UNRWA -in the absence of a functioning administration- also means preventing children from education."

"This cannot continue."



20:33 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for further Palestinian reforms in a call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Blinken told Abbas that the United States "looks forward to working with the new PA cabinet to promote peace, security and prosperity and urged the implementation of necessary reforms," State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller said.

"Secretary Blinken emphasized that a revitalized PA is essential to delivering results for the Palestinian people in both the West Bank and Gaza," he said.

Abbas last week approved a new government led by Mohammed Mustafa.

Blinken spoke to Abbas shortly after the top US diplomat joined a virtual meeting with Israeli leaders on a planned offensive on Rafah, where more than half of Gaza's population has taken shelter since the war.

19:28 The White House will demand more information from Israel after "deeply concerning" reports of bodies found strewn at Gaza's largest hospital complex.

"It is deeply concerning if it's true, we're going to be reaching out to the Israeli government to get more information," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in Washington.

She spoke after the health ministry reported "dozens of bodies, some of them decomposed" had been found around the hospital, while doctors and civilians at the damaged complex told AFP at least 20 bodies had been found, some of which appeared to have been driven over by military vehicles.

19:05 The White House said it was concerned by an Israeli move to ban broadcasts of Qatari news channel Al Jazeera in the country, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to enforce "immediately."

"I'm going to refer to Israel for what they may or may not be considering," said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

"If it is true, a move like this is concerning."

Israel claimed in January that an Al Jazeera staff journalist and a freelancer killed in an air strike in Gaza were "terror operatives."

The following month it claimed, also without providing evidence, another journalist for the channel, wounded in a separate strike, was a "deputy company commander" with Hamas.

Al Jazeera has fiercely denied Israel's accusations and accused Israel of systematically targeting Al Jazeera employees in the Gaza Strip.

Al Jazeera's bureau chief in the Palestinian territory, Wael al-Dahdouh, was also wounded, in an Israeli strike in December that killed the network's cameraman.

Israel has also killed Dahdouh's sons, daughter, and grandson in another attack.

The Israel-Gaza war has taken a severe toll on journalists, and as of 31 March, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) preliminary investigations showed that Israel killed at least 90 journalists and media workers in Gaza and 3 in Lebanon since the war began.

The press advocacy group is also investigating numerous reports of other journalists being killed, missing, detained, hurt, or threatened, and of damage to media offices and journalists’ homes.

In 2022, Israeli forces shot and killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while she covered an Israeli military incursion in Jenin in the occupied West Bank.

A UN independent commission that examined the killing of Abu Akleh concluded in October 2023 on reasonable grounds that Israeli forces used lethal force without justification under international human rights law and, intentionally or recklessly, violated Abu Akleh's right to life.

​The law giving Netanyahu this authority, which passed on Monday by 70 votes to 10, carries the power to ban the broadcast of content from foreign channels but also allows the closing of their offices in Israel.

18:17 Israeli strikes on the Iranian consulate in the Mazzeh neighbourhood of Damascus killed two commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

"Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, one of the senior commanders of the IRGC's Quds Force, was martyred in an attack by Zionist regime fighters on the Islamic Republic of Iran's consulate building in Damascus," state TV reported.

The strike also killed Zahdi's deputy, Brigadier General Mohammad Hadi Hajriahimi, and five other officers.

Iran said the consular annex in Syria was attacked by six missiles fired by F35 fighter jets.

​Syria's official news agency SANA said: "The Israeli attack targeted the Iranian consulate building in the Mazzeh neighbourhood of Damascus."

While Iran's consular building was levelled in the attack, its main embassy building remained intact.

Iran's Ambassador Hossein Akbari condemned Israel and said as many as seven people were killed.

First responders were still searching for bodies under the rubble.

Akbari said two police officers who guard the building were wounded.

He vowed revenge for the strike “at the same magnitude and harshness.”

The strike, the fifth such attack in eight days, killed six people.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said his country “highly condemns” the Israeli strikes.

Mekdad said, as reported by Syria’s news agency, SANA, that the “terrorist attack” killed “a number of innocent lives” without elaborating.

Israel “will not be able to affect the relationship between Iran and Syria,” he added.

17:49 These are some of the photos and posts documenting the scene from Al-Shifa Hospital after two weeks of a brutal attack and siege.

Warning! Distressing images



Craig Mokhibe former United Nations human rights official and a specialist in international human rights law, said: "The horrors revealed at Al-Shifa Hospital are part of Israel’s systematic targeting of all medical facilities in Gaza as a key element of its strategy of genocide."

"Hospitals represent survival and refuge. As such, they stand in the way of the total destruction of civilian life."



17:20 Israeli strikes on the Syrian capital Damascus destroyed a building next to the Iranian embassy, Iranian local media reported.

"Hossein Akbari, ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Damascus, and his family were not harmed in the Israeli attack," Iran's Nour news agency said.

Earlier reports suggest that at least six people were killed in the strikes.

Explosions were heard west of the Syrian capital of Damascus, according to eyewitnesses.

A building adjacent to the Iranian embassy in Damascus was destroyed, with smoke rising from the western Mazzeh neighbourhood, according to eyewitnesses and a Xinhua news agency.

Meanwhile, Syria's state news agency SANA reported that the Israeli aggression targeted a building in the Mazzeh neighbourhood, while the country's air defences intercepted a foreign attack in the vicinity of Damascus, giving no further details yet.

16:48 At least six people were killed in Israeli strikes near Iran embassy in Damascus.

We will be bringing you more info.

16:25 Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews, or Haredi, protesters block the Route 4 highway in the centre of Israel during a demonstration against military conscription, Times of Israel reported.

The protest comes on the same day that the Israeli Supreme Court decision on the divisive issue of military draft exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredi) has gone into effect.

The court decided last week to freeze funding to Jewish seminaries whose students have not turned up to be drafted into the military.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel enjoy a system of broad exemptions to Israel’s compulsory military service and the issue has long divided the country.

Secular Israelis say the ultra-Orthodox should share in the burden of protecting the country.

The issue poses a threat to Netanyahu’s government, which hinges on two ultra-Orthodox parties for its stability.

16:02 In a formal ceremony held today at the Prime Minister’s headquarters office in Ramallah, Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Mohammad Mustafa officially assumed his duties, taking over from Mohammad Shtayyeh.

During the ceremony, Shtayyeh handed Mustafa a number of crucial files, including the Gaza reconstruction and recovery plan, the reform plan, and the emergency plan, Wafa news agency reported.

16:00 A second shipment of food aid arrived by sea in the latest test of a new maritime route from Cyprus, the Associated Press reported.

One of the three boats could be seen off the coast, and Cyprus’ foreign minister, Constantinos Kombos, said they had received permission to offload.

The precise mechanism of delivery was not yet clear.

Israel faces accusations, including from the UN’s top rights official, Volker Türk, that it is committing “a war crime” by continuing to obstruct food aid to Gaza’s population of 2.4 million.

Aid groups say only a fraction of the supplies required have been allowed in since October when Israel placed Gaza under total siege.

Meanwhile, Martin Griffiths, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs said "Attempts to sideline the UNRWA must stop."

"UNRWA is the backbone of the humanitarian operation in Gaza. Any effort to distribute aid without them is simply doomed to fail."

"No other agency has the same reach, experience or community trust needed to do the job," he added.



15:00 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the Knesset to pass the so-called Al Jazeera law this evening, Israeli media reported.

Netanyahu wants to “immediately act to close Al Jazeera” following the law’s passage.

If passed, the bill will give Netanyahu and the communications minister the authority to order the closure of foreign networks operating in Israel and confiscate their equipment.

The legislation passed a first reading in the Knesset in February and was approved for its second and third readings following an extended debate in the Knesset National Security Committee.

14:00 The Palestinian health ministry said that Israel killed at least 32,845 people in Gaza since it started its genocidal war on the strip.

The toll includes at least 63 deaths over the past 24 hours, a ministry statement said.

75,392 people have been wounded in the Gaza Strip since the war began on October 7, it added.

13:02 Hundreds of Palestinians returned to Al-Shifa Hospital and the surrounding area after the Israeli withdrawal early Monday, where they found bodies inside and outside of the facility.

The government media office said Israeli forces killed 400 Palestinians in Al-Shifa, where more than 20 bodies had been recovered, some crushed by withdrawing vehicles, A doctor told AFP news agency.

A spokesperson for the civil emergency service said Israeli forces had used bulldozers to dig up the grounds of the complex and exhume buried bodies.

“The occupation destroyed and burnt all buildings inside the Al-Shifa medical complex. They bulldozed the courtyards, burying dozens of bodies of martyrs in the rubble, turning the place into a mass graveyard,” Ismail Al-Thawabta, director of the media office told Reuters. “This is a crime against humanity.”

Among the dead were Ahmed Maqadma and his mother — both doctors at Al-Shifa — and his cousin, said Ghassan Abu Sitta, a Palestinian-British doctor who volunteered at Shifa and other hospitals during the first months of the war before returning to Britain.

The fate of the three had been unknown since they talked by phone with family as they tried to leave Shifa nearly a week ago and the line suddenly went dead.



On Monday, relatives found their bodies with gunshot wounds about a block from the hospital, said Abu Sitta, who is in touch with the family.

Mohammed Mahdi, who was among those who returned, described a scene of “total destruction.” He said several buildings had been burned down. He counted six bodies in the area, including two in the hospital courtyard.

Another resident, Yahia Abu Auf, said there were still patients, medical workers, and displaced people sheltering inside the medical compound. He said several patients had been taken to the nearby Ahli Hospital.

He said army bulldozers had ploughed over a makeshift cemetery inside the hospital compound.

Bassel al-Hilou said the bodies of seven of his relatives were found in the wreckage of a house near Shifa where they had been sheltering when it was demolished by a strike.

“There was a massacre in my uncle’s house,” he told The Associated Press. 

The situation is indescribable,” he said.

Most of the hospital buildings were destroyed, burned, and attacked by the Israeli army, which turned the hospital out of service.

Dozens of air strikes and shelling had hit the area around the complex in the morning, in heavy fire which the government media office said served to provide cover for the withdrawing Israeli troops and tanks.

Israel claimed it had battled Palestinian militants hiding inside Gaza City's Al-Shifa Hospital, killed at least 200 fighters and recovered stockpiles of weapons, and cash.

This claim mirrors similar allegations previously made by the Israeli occupation forces in November, asserting that Hamas operates from underneath the hospital, only to be subsequently proven unfounded.

Hamas has consistently denied operating from Al-Shifa and other health facilities.

Watch out for graphic content!



13:30 The Israeli occupation army said a “suspicious aerial target” struck a military base in the southern city of Eilat, causing light damage to a building.

The army did not disclose what hit the base but said there were no injuries and that its air defences did not intercept the object.

An umbrella group of Iraqi militias claimed responsibility. The group, dubbed the Islamic Resistance of Iraq, did not give additional details.

Since the war on Gaza broke out on 7 October, Israel has faced attacks from militant groups who say they are supporting the Palestinian cause from as far away as Yemen and Iraq.

12:00 Israel's Mossad chief David Barnea has conveyed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a captives deal will only be possible if there is a compromise on the return of Palestinian civilians to north Gaza, according to the Israeli Channel 13.

Truce talks between Israel and Hamas reportedly resumed yesterday in Cairo.

Israeli Haaretz newspaper on Saturday quoted an unnamed Israeli source who reiterated that the talks have been deadlocked because Hamas insist on its demand for northern Gazans to be allowed to return after being forcibly displaced by Israel to the south.

The resistance groups also condition any further captive releases on an Israeli commitment to ending the war and withdrawing all Israeli forces from Gaza.

Israel has rejected both of these demands outright.

11:30 Israeli police said Monday they had arrested the sister of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh as part of a terror probe in southern Israel.

Police told AFP that Sabah Abdel Salam Haniyeh, who is an Israeli citizen, was taken into custody in the town of Tel Sheva as part of an investigation also involving Israel's security agency Shin Bet.

A police spokesman, who confirmed it was Haniyeh's sister, said she is "suspected of having contact with Hamas operatives and identifying with the organisation while inciting and supporting acts of terrorism in Israel."

Police said they found in the 57-year-old's house "documents, media, telephones, other findings and evidence linking her to the commission of serious security offences against the State of Israel." Ismail Haniyeh, who lives in Doha, is the head of Hamas's political bureau.

11:00 Various prisoners' institutions, in a joint report issued today, said that Israel has detained more than 7,895 people in the West Bank since the start of its aggression against the Palestinian people on 7 October, WAFA said.

The institutions, which included the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission and the Ramallah-based Addameer; the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, said the number includes 258 women, including women from inside Israel and women from Gaza who were detained in the West Bank. 

More than 500 children were also detained. 64 journalists have been detained, 43 of whom remain in detention; 23 others were placed under administrative detention, without charge or trial.

The number of administrative detention orders issued against Palestinians amounted to 4,430, including new and renewed orders, including orders issued against children and women, according to the report.

The report indicated that the ongoing detention campaigns are accompanied by mounting crimes and violations, including torture, severe beatings, and threats against detainees and their families.

The campaigns were accompanied by widespread vandalism and destruction of citizens’ homes and the seizure of vehicles, money, and jewellery, in addition to the large-scale destruction of infrastructure, particularly in Tulkarem camps and Jenin and its camp.

During the same period, 13 were killed inside detention centres.

There are now more than 9,100 Palestinians held inside Israeli detention centres. This includes 3,558 administrative detainees and 793 detainees from Gaza that Israel classifies as "illegal combatants."

According to the prisoners’ institutions, Israel has refused to disclose the number and fate of detainees from Gaza.

10:30 The United States and Israel were due to hold a virtual meeting Monday on the planned Israeli attack on Gaza's Rafah, an Israeli source said, a week after Israel called off a delegation's visit to Washington.

"The meeting is scheduled for today. It will be online. Later this week, there may be an in-person meeting," said the source.

10:00 The Israeli occupation army on Monday announced the death of a soldier in fighting in the Gaza Strip, bringing the total number of troops killed since 7 October to 600.

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