Gaza's Al Shifa Hospital devastated in two-week battle, is now ‘completely out of service’ - GulfToday

Gaza's Al Shifa Hospital devastated in two-week battle, is now ‘completely out of service’


This combination of pictures created on Monday, shows the damage at Al Shifa Hospital after the Israeli military withdrew from the complex housing. AFP

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

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

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

Several doctors and civilians at the damaged complex told AFP that at least 20 bodies had been found, some of which appeared to have been driven over by military vehicles.

Several were found close to the west entrance to the complex, which the Israeli army used during its departure from the hospital grounds on Monday.

Gazamother-hunger Palestinian woman Kholod Al  Masri holds her son, as she looks after her children Mohammed and Maram, who suffer from malnutrition, at Al Awda health centre. Reuters

"Bodies... The tanks went over them. Destruction. Children. Innocents. Unarmed civilians. They (soldiers) went over them," one witness said, asking not to be named.

An AFP correspondent saw one badly decomposed body bearing tyre marks, although it was not known when it was driven over. AFP has asked the Israeli military for comment.

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

US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators have been pushing for a ceasefire and hostage release deal, but Hamas official Osama Hamdan said "there is no talk so far about any new round of negotiations."

UN agencies and humanitarian aid groups have warned that many of Gaza's 2.4 million people are on the brink of famine, and donor countries have sporadically trucked in and airdropped food.

A second ship carrying relief goods via the Mediterranean was near Gaza's coast on Monday, according to website, days after leaving Cyprus.

Hamas chief's sister arrested

Hamas in a statement acknowledged the suffering and "exhaustion" of Gazans because of the war, while vowing to continue fighting until it achieves "victory and freedom" for Palestinians.

Israeli police meanwhile said they had arrested the sister of Qatar-based Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, as part of a terror probe, in the southern Israel town of Tel Sheva.

Police told AFP that Sabah Abdel Salam Haniyeh, 57, who is an Israeli citizen, was taken into custody as part investigation also involving Israel's security agency Shin Bet.

Battle destroys hospital

Over the past two weeks, the Israeli army carried out what it labelled "precise operational activity" at the Al Shifa complex, before declaring on Monday that the forces had withdrawn.

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 Hamas government media office said served to provide cover for the withdrawing troops and tanks.

The army has in recent days released footage of its fighters moving through the hospital's corridors, and pictures of large numbers of assault rifles, grenades and other weapons it said were recovered from the maternity ward.

Agence France-Presse



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