Gaza's Shifa hospital devastated in two-week attack

AFP , AP , Monday 1 Apr 2024

Israeli forces on Monday pulled out of Gaza's largest hospital complex after an intensive two-week military attack, leaving behind charred buildings and bodies strewn at the sprawling complex.

Palestinians inspect the damage outside Gaza s Al-Shifa hospital after the Israeli military withdrew from the complex housing the hospital on April 1, 2024.AFP


The Palestinian health ministry said that, after heavy Israeli air strikes and tank fire, "the scale of the destruction inside the Al-Shifa complex and the buildings around it is very large".

"Dozens of bodies, some of them decomposed, have been recovered from in and around Al-Shifa medical complex," the ministry said, adding that the hospital was now "completely out of service".

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

The scene left behind was one of devastation, with windows blown out, concrete walls blackened and volunteers carrying away shrouded corpses across the sandy wasteland.

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 troops and tanks.

Among the dead were Ahmed Maqadma and his mother — both doctors at Shifa — and his cousin, said Dr. 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.

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 was indescribable.”

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, explosives 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.

Battles have also flared around other Gaza hospitals almost six months into the war.

The government press office said the Israeli army had blown up more than 20 houses within 24 hours in the main southern city of Khan Younis, where battles have raged around the Nasser and Al-Amal hospitals.

An Israeli strike also hit "a tent camp" inside central Gaza's Al-Aqsa hospital compound, killing four people, said World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on social media platform X.


* This story has been edited by Ahram Online.


Short link: