Israeli forces storm Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital

Israel’s military forces have stormed al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City with tanks and heavy gunfire, resulting in deaths and injuries, Palestinian officials have said.

The Israeli military said in a statement on Monday that it is conducting a “precise operation” at the medical facility. Gaza’s Ministry of Health said about 30,000 people, including displaced civilians, wounded patients and medical staff are trapped inside the complex.

Israel, which wound down many of its operations in northern Gaza some weeks ago claiming to have destroyed Hamas’s military infrastructure, said in the statement that Hamas – which governs the enclave – has “regrouped” inside al-Shifa and is “using it to command attacks against Israel”.


In a message in English on Telegram, Gaza’s Ministry of Health said anyone “who tries to move is targeted by sniper bullets and quadcopter”. It added that the raid, which began at 2am (00:00 GMT), has resulted in a “number of martyrs and wounded”.

Al Jazeera Arabic reported that the hospital’s surgical building was on fire following the Israeli bombing.

According to Palestinian writer and journalist Imad Zaqqout and other witnesses, Israeli forces arrested Al Jazeera Arabic’s correspondent Ismail al-Ghoul from inside the hospital.

The witnesses said al-Ghoul was beaten severely by Israeli soldiers before he was arrested with dozens of men and women within the hospital.

Abdel-Hady Sayed, who has been sheltering in the medical facility for over three months, told The Associated Press that people are “trapped inside”.

“They fire at anything moving… Doctors and ambulances can’t move,” he said.

Later on Monday the Israeli military announced one of its soldiers died in its raid of the hospital, where it exchanged fire with Hamas fighters.

The death of the soldier, 20-year-old Staff Sergeant Matan Vinogradov, brings the total number of Israeli soldiers killed in the Gaza war to 250.

Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a video posted earlier on X that the Israeli military would be conducting a “humanitarian effort” during the assault, providing food and water. He also insisted that there is “no obligation” for patients and medical staff to evacuate the hospital.

However, Al Jazeera Arabic correspondents on the ground reported that Israeli forces used loudspeakers to order hundreds of people sheltering at the hospital to evacuate.

Footage verified by Al Jazeera’s Sanad verification unit shows dozens of Palestinians fleeing the hospital as Israeli forces launched operations in the area.

الجيش الإسرائيلي يجبر مئات العائلات على النزوح من مجمع الشفاء الطبي غربي مدينة غزة #حرب_غزة #فيديو

— الجزيرة فلسطين (@AJA_Palestine) March 18, 2024

Translation: The Israeli army forces hundreds of families to flee al-Shifa Hospital, west of Gaza City.

Later on Monday Israel’s military issued a call for all civilians near Al-Shifa or in the broader Remal neighbourhood of Gaza City to flee south.

Leaflets dropped by the Israeli army instructed people to evacuate to the al-Mawasi evacuation zone located in western Khan Younis, contradicting Hagari’s earlier statements, leaving a “misleading narrative”, Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud said, reporting from Rafah.

Palestinian journalist Wadea Abu Alsoud, trapped inside the medical complex, described the situation in the facility as “catastrophic” and reported “intense clashes”, in a video posted to Instagram.

“This might be my last video,” he said. “We’re now besieged inside al-Shifa Hospital. We’re being heavily shot at. The occupation suddenly raided the hospital and its vicinity. As you can hear now, there are intense clashes in the vicinity of al-Shifa Hospital. We’re hearing sounds coming from the gate. There is shrapnel falling over the hospital’s yard.”

Al Jazeera’s Willem Marx, in occupied East Jerusalem, quoted an Israeli statement saying its forces “encountered fire inside the hospital, responded with live fire and individuals were hit”.

Marx noted that this is the fourth Israeli raid on al-Shifa since October 7. A long siege of the facility in November earned Israel an international outcry.

The Government Media Office in Gaza condemned the operation, calling the attack a “war crime”.

“The Israeli occupation is still using its fabricated narratives to deceive the world and justify the storming of al-Shifa,” it said in a statement.

Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of running military operations from hospitals and other medical centres, claims the group denies.

The Health Ministry said it had received calls from people in the area around the hospital claiming there were dozens of casualties.

“No one could transport them to the hospital due to the intensity of gunfire and artillery shelling,” the ministry said.

According to the UN, 155 health facilities in the Gaza Strip have been damaged since the war began.



Al Jazeera and news agencies

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