Israel Defense Forces withdraw from Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital: Reports

Israel withdraws troops from Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital
 IDF withdraws troops from Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital. Photo Courtesy: IDF X page

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Monday (April 1, 2024) said it has withdrawn its troops from Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital, two weeks after it was raided.

“IDF and ISA troops have completed precise operational activity in the area of the Shifa Hospital and exited the area of the hospital,” the Israel Defense Forces said as quoted by CNN, using an acronym for Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet.

“The troops killed terrorists in close-quarters encounters, located numerous weapons and intelligence documents throughout the hospital, while preventing harm to civilians, patients, and medical teams,” the Israeli force said.

According to reports, the IDF had launched the raid after intelligence indicated Hamas was using the hospital as a base to launch attacks.

Hamas, however, denied using medical facilities to launch the operations.

A Gaza Civil Defense spokesperson on the scene told CNN that the hospital, which was the enclave’s largest medical facility, had been “completely destroyed and burned down”.

“Injured and dead bodies fill the hospital grounds,” Captain Mahmoud Bassal said. “There are bodies buried in the hospital yards.”

More than 30 wounded people were transported from Al-Shifa to the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital east of Gaza City, Bassal said.

WHO chief reacts

WHO chief  Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the situation at the hospital as a ‘siege’.

In his X post, made before the troop withdrawal, he said: “21 patients have died since the hospital came under siege on 18 March. Hostilities continue around the hospital according to updates from Al-Shifa hospital in #Gaza reported by a health worker inside the hospital.” 

“107 patients are in an inadequate building, within the hospital compound, lacking needed health support, medical care and supplies” he said.

He said: “Patients have been moved multiple times within the hospital compound since the siege began.”

“Food is extremely limited – this is potentially life-threatening for diabetic patients whose condition is worsening.We urge Israel to urgently facilitate access and a humanitarian corridor so WHO and partners can carry out the lifesaving transfer of patients,” he said.

Netanyahu’s surgery and Jerusalem protest

The Israeli military took the step at a time when PM Benjamin Netanyahu underwent a hernia surgery on Sunday.

The surgery took place amid demonstrations in Jerusalem over his handling of the war in Gaza.

The protesters reportedly demanded more action to free hostages.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday issued new provisional measures for Israel as the humanitarian situation in bombarded and besieged Gaza continues to deteriorate.

The world court issued the new order in response to a recent request made by South Africa, which submitted a case in December accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza, based on its continuing offensive following Hamas-led attacks in southern Israel which left almost 1,200 dead and more than 240 taken hostage.

Since then, more than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli strikes and attacks, according to figures from Gaza’s health ministry.