Israel conducts military operation in Gaza's al-Shifa Hospital

Israel conducts military operation in Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital

Israel Defense Forces troops uncovered a 180-foot-long tunnel underneath the Al-Shifa Hospital complex in mid-November. On Sunday, the Israel forces launched a raid of the medical facility stating Hamas terrorists were using it to command attacks against Israel. Photo via Israel Defense Forces/UPI | License Photo

March 17 (UPI) — Israeli forces raided the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City overnight, resulting in an unknown number of deaths, according to Palestinian health officials.

The siege of the medical facility began at about 2 a.m. local time Monday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said on its official Telegram channel, adding that “martyrs and wounded have fallen.”

It said the Israeli forces were targeting the specialized surgeries building with firearms and artillery. Military vehicles were in the hospital’s courtyards. Some 30,000 displaced people, patients and staff were present during the raid, it said.

The attack caused a fire to ignite.

“Everyone who tries to move is targeted by sniper bullets and quadcopters,” it said.

The Israel Defense Forces had earlier announced the attack, with spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari calling it a “high-precision operation.” In a recorded statement, he said the military had “concrete intelligence that demanded immediate action,” specifically that senior Hamas militants were inside the medical facility and were using it to launch attacks against Israel.

The IDF and the Israel Security Agency followed with a a joint statement explaining fighting began when militants inside the hospital opened fire on Israeli troops.

“The troops responded with live fire and hits were identified,” the two agencies said. “Our troops are continuing to operate in the area of the hospital.”

In a second statement issued some four hours later, it said its troops have identified “terrorist fire” coming from several hospital buildings.

Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee, IDF spokesman for Arab-language media, has issued an evacuation order for those living near the hospital.

The fighting appears to be ongoing.

לוחמי צה”ל ושב”כ ממשיכים לפעול לסיכול טרור באופן ממוקד במרחב בית החולים שיפאא’.

בשעות האחרונות הלוחמים זיהו ירי לעברם מתוך מספר מבנים בבית החולים, ניהלו עימם חילופי אש ופגעו במספר מחבלים— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) March 18, 2024

Hagari had said the raid would not prevent the hospital from functioning and that while there should be no need for patients and medical staff to evacuate, a passageway was to be established so they can exit the facility.

He explained his forces had undergone specific training for the mission. Arabic speakers were to be on the ground to communicate with patients and hospital staff and IDF doctors were to be deployed to assist those in need, he said, adding that soldiers would also be delivering food, water and other supplies.

“Our targeted mission isn’t just an operational necessity — it’s a global imperative,” he said. “We seek no harm to the civilians that Hamas is hiding behind, which is why we will conduct this operation with caution and care.”

The Palestinian Ministry of Health has condemned the raid as a “blatant violation of international humanitarian law.” Hospitals and other medical facilities are protected from attacks by the Geneva Convention.

“The goal of the Israeli military offensive is to continue destroying the health system in northern Gaza,” the health ministry said in a statement.

“We demand the international community to reject Israeli occupation practices against the Medical Healing Complex and Gaza Hospitals.”

The hospital is the largest in Gaza and has offered shelter to tens of thousands of Palestinians displaced by Israel’s war against Hamas.

Amid the war, its functioning has been limited by a lack of medical supplies.

In mid-November, the IDF said it had uncovered a fortified tunnel system used by Hamas under the hospital’s complex.

Palestinian children wait to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 6, 2024. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo  » …
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