According to witnesses, Israeli troops stormed into Gaza’s largest hospital on Wednesday and began inspecting its rooms and basement. This led to a blockade that raised concerns about thousands of civilians being trapped inside and sent shockwaves across the world.
Israeli forces have turned their attention to targeting Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. They claim that Hamas fighters have their “beating heart” of operations at a headquarters located in tunnels beneath the hospital, a claim that Hamas refutes.
The plight of thousands of displaced residents who had taken refuge there, as well as the hundreds of patients who were stuck inside without power to run basic medical equipment, have drawn attention from all around the world.
Gaza officials said many patients, including three newborn babies, died in recent days as a result of Israel’s encirclement of the
Israel said its troops killed fighters in a clash outside the gates before entering and had brought medical supplies for those inside.
“Before entering the hospital, our forces were confronted by explosive devices and terrorist squads, and fighting ensued in which terrorists were killed,” the Israeli military said. “We can confirm that incubators, baby food, and medical supplies brought by IDF tanks from Israel have successfully reached the Shifa hospital.”
“Our medical teams and Arabic-speaking soldiers are on the ground to ensure that these supplies reach those in need,” the Israeli military said.
Ahmed El Mohallalati, a surgeon, told Reuters by phone that staff were in hiding as the fighting unfolded outside the hospital overnight.
“So yesterday evening, it started… shooting around the hospital and within the hospital. And the sound was really horrible. Look, you can feel that it’s, you know, very near the hospital,” he said. “And then we realised that the tanks were moving around the hospital. One of the big tanks entered the hospital premises from the eastern main gate, and they just parked in front of the hospital emergency department.”
“All kinds of weapons were used around the hospital. They targeted the hospital directly. We tried to avoid being near the windows,” said Mr Mohallalati.
“Another witness inside the hospital, reached by telephone, said tanks had entered the compound at 3:00 a.m. The Israeli troops dismounted, spread out in the yard, and began searching the basement and entering buildings.