Israeli military says troops raid Gaza's Shifa Hospital

March 18, 2024 4:34 pm

[Source: Reuters]

The Israeli military said on Monday its troops raided the compound of Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital, in an operation Palestinian health authorities said had caused multiple casualties and set off a fierce fire in one of the buildings.

The military said soldiers were conducting a “precise operation” and were fired upon when they entered the compound. “The troops responded with live fire and hits were identified. Our troops are continuing to operate in the area of the hospital,” it added.

The statement from the military said the operation was based on intelligence information which indicated the hospital was being used by senior Hamas leaders.

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Gaza’s Health Ministry said a fire broke out at the entrance of the complex, causing cases of suffocation among displaced women and children in the hospital.

It said communication had been cut off, with people trapped inside the surgery and emergency units of one of the buildings.

The military said troops had been instructed on the importance of operating cautiously as well as on measures to be taken to avoid harm to patients, civilians, medical staff and medical equipment and said patients were not required to evacuate.

Hamas said in a statement the Israeli military had committed a new crime by directly targeting the hospital buildings without caring about patients, medical staff or displaced people in it.

Israel came under fierce criticism last year when troops first raided the hospital, where they uncovered tunnels nearby they said were used as command and control centres by Hamas.

The hospital in Gaza City is one of the few remaining health facilities left in the besieged enclave and the Israeli military has long accused the Islamist movement Hamas of using it as a base for its fighters.

Hamas and hospital officials have denied the accusation and the hospital has been at the centre of accusations of war crimes on both sides, with Palestinians accusing Israel of targeting hospitals and Israel saying the sites were being used to shelter armed fighters.