Israeli forces withdraw from Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital after two-week raid leaving facility in ruins

Israeli forces have withdrawn from al-Shifa hospital in Gaza after a two-week raid that left most of the major medical complex in ruins, amid claims from Hamas that the Israel Defense Forces killed 400 people in the compound.

According to the IDF, the facility – Gaza City’s main hospital before the war – was used to harbour Hamas fighters. The army described the operation as one of the most successful of the nearly six-month conflict and cited the killing of of 200 militants including senior operatives. The claim they were all militants could not be confirmed.

However, the UN health agency said several hospital patients had died and dozens were put at risk during the raid. Palestinians who fled the facility described days of heavy fighting, mass arrests and forced marches past dead people, while the Hamas-run health ministry described the scale of the destruction inside the complex as “very large”.

Footage showed widespread devastation, with the facility’s main buildings reduced to burned-out husks.

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

Most of Gaza’s hospitals are no longer functioning, the UN has said.

According to a statement by the World Health Organization director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, published on X late on Sunday, at least 21 individuals died during the military operation with more than 100 patients still remaining in the compound, at least 28 in critical condition.

“Among the patients are four children, lacking necessary means of care – no diapers, urine bags, water to clean wounds,” Ghebreyesus wrote. “Many have infected wounds and are dehydrated. Since yesterday only one bottle of water remains for every 15 people.”

Raed al-Nims, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, the Palestinian branch of the humanitarian organisation the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, told Al Jazeera: “The situation is dire. The medical staff, some of them were killed, others tortured, others detained, and above all, they have been besieged for two weeks without any medical supplies or even food or water.”

Nims added: “According to eyewitness accounts and official reports, many of the civilians were executed. They were killed by the Israeli occupation forces, including medical staff, doctors and nurses; they were purposefully executed by the Israeli soldiers.”


The Gaza media office, run by Hamas, said Israeli forces had killed 400 Palestinians around the hospital in Gaza City, including a doctor and her son, also a doctor, and put the medical facility out of use, Reuters reported.

“The occupation destroyed and burned all buildings inside 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 Gaza media office, was quoted as saying by Reuters. “This is a crime against humanity.”

These claims are yet to be independently verified.

In a statement, the IDF said its forces had “conducted precise operational activity” at al-Shifa hospital, apprehended about 500 people and “eliminated hundreds of terrorists”.

The IDF said the operation was based on “precise intelligence” and said its forces “found large quantities of weapons, intelligence documents throughout the hospital, encountered terrorists in close-quarters battles and engaged in combat while avoiding harm to the medical staff and patients”.

Rear Adm Daniel Hagari, the top Israeli military spokesperson, said Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad group had established their main northern headquarters inside the hospital, according to the Associated Press.


Hagari blamed the Palestinian militants for the destruction at the facility, saying fighters had barricaded themselves inside the facility. Hagari denied that any civilians had been harmed by Israeli forces, and said the army had evacuated more than 200 of the estimated 300 to 350 patients and delivered food, water and medical supplies to the rest.

Hamas denies using the facility for military ends and accuses Israel of war crimes.

The current conflict was triggered in October when Hamas killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in an attack in southern Israel. The military offensive launched by Israel in the aftermath of the attack has so far killed an estimated 33,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to local health authorities. A relentless bombardment has reduced swaths of the territory to rubble, displacing more than 80% of the population.

In Jerusalem, the Israeli parliament approved a law that grants senior ministers powers to shut down foreign news networks deemed a security risk after Netanyahu pledged swift action to halt Al Jazeera’s activities in the nation.

“Al Jazeera will no longer be broadcast from Israel,” Netanyahu wrote in a post on X after the law was approved in its final readings on Monday. “I intend to act immediately in accordance with the new law to stop the channel’s activity.”

Israel has previously accused the Qatari media organisation of agitating against it among Arab viewers. Al Jazeera has previously accused Israel of systematically targeting its offices and personnel.

Netanyahu is grappling with one of the most serious threats yet to his coalition. Over the weekend, tens of thousands of people across Israel joined the families of hostages to protest against the government and call for his removal.

Hamas abducted about 250 people. Israel believes about 130 of these remain in Gaza, including 34 who are presumed dead. The protesters in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Be’er Sheva, Caesarea and other cities on Saturday, and at a further demonstration outside the Knesset in Jerusalem on Sunday, demanded the release of those still held captive and labelled Netanyahu an “obstacle to the deal”, vowing to persist until he left power.

Netanyahu is entering the most precarious week for his coalition since the war began as a deadline imposed by the Israeli supreme court to end the ex emption for ultra-Orthodox students from military conscription was reached on Monday. The issue divides the coalition between the rightwing religious and the secular parties who want to see conscription shared more equally among Jewish Israelis.

Israel has mandatory army service but for decades has made an exemption for ultra-Orthodox Jews, also known as Haredi, who have been allowed to continue full-time Torah study and live on government stipends. But as Israel’s armed forces wage a near six-month war in Gaza in which 500 soldiers have been killed, legislators from the government and the opposition have voiced a stance that places the onus of heightened military service obligations on the Haredi community, rather than imposing additional duties on those already in service.

In a letter on Sunday, the attorney general, Gali Baharav-Miara, told the defence and education ministries that the “process of drafting members of the ultra-Orthodox community into the army must begin” and warned “against any attempt to continue funding yeshivahs [Jewish institutions for religious study] that harbour students who dodge their army service, against court orders”, the Times of Israel reported.

Naama Lazimi, a member of the Knesset for the centre-left Labor party, said the row over the ultra-Orthodox exemption law could be “a gamechanger”.

Should the government choose to revoke the exemption, it faces the potential of a walkout by the ultra-Orthodox lawmakers; maintaining the exemption could prompt the withdrawal of secular members. In either scenario, the unity of the coalition hangs precariously in the balance, given the looming threat of new elections with Netanyahu trailing significantly in the polls.

Netanyahu would be discharged from hospital on Tuesday afternoon after a hernia procedure, his office said.

Elsewhere, a second shipment of food aid arrived by sea on Monday in the latest test of a new maritime route from Cyprus. One of the three boats could be seen off the coast, and Cyprus’s foreign minister said they had received permission to unload. The precise mechanism of delivery was not yet clear.

AP and Reuters contributed to this report