Israel’s seizure of Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest medical complex, and the Israeli response to its attack on Gaza City
The Israeli military’s seizure of Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest medical complex, is central to the military strategy at the heart of the ground invasion: Eradicate Hamas and free roughly 240 hostages taken during the Oct. 7 surprise attack.
That strategy has unfolded over the past three weeks as more than 40,000 Israeli soldiers encircled Gaza City, where Israeli officials say Hamas commanders were concentrated. The soldiers then attacked fighters and bunkers, all while targeting a vast tunnel network that Israeli officials say enables Hamas forces to hide and carry out operations. Israeli officials also assessed that striking so deeply in the heart of Gaza City would pressure Hamas to reach a deal on hostage releases.
U.S. military officials said their Israeli counterparts tell them to expect more weeks of clearing operations in the north before Israel prepares a separate initiative in southern Gaza, widening the offensive.
The Israeli military’s spokesman, Daniel Hagari, said late Friday that the Israeli troops wouldn’t stop attacking until Hamas is pushed to the south of the strip.
How will Hamas be eliminated if its fighters blend into the rest of the population as they head south? How long will Israel be able to keep maintaining a cease-fire after the loss of over a thousand lives in Gaza? Most immediately, was Al-Shifa an important enough military target to raid?
TEL AVIV, Israel — Piles of medical and solid waste fill the crowded corridors of Gaza’s largest hospital, according to the World Health Organization. The hospital’s entrance leads to a mass grave containing at least 80 bodies.
A joint United Nations humanitarian assessment team, led by the WHO, gained the first outside access to Al-Shifa hospital Saturday and saw first hand the dire circumstances of the facility, the groups said. The team only had an hour to see the hospital.
Several patients died in the previous two to three days due to medical services being shut down in the facility, according to the WHO. And now there are just 25 health workers for the 291 remaining patients, including 32 premature babies in “extremely critical condition.”
Earlier Saturday, the IDF issued evacuation orders to the remaining 2,500 people sheltering on Al-Shifa’s hospital grounds. Those civilians and some patients were evacuated by the military before the UN team arrived, according to the WHO.
As part of the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel by Hamas, nearly 240 people were kidnapped. There are still discussions over a possible cease-fire deal that would allow people in Gaza to move about safely and also allow hostages to be returned to Israel.