Hundreds leave Gaza hospital amid Israeli invasion as dozens feared dead at UN shelter

18 November 2023, 19:10 | Updated: 18 November 2023, 23:31

Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza
Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Hundreds of people left Gaza's main hospital on Saturday, with some claiming Israel told them to go despite the IDF denying this.

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Patients were seen moving from the al-Shifa hospital as the Israeli army continued the invasion of Hamas in its bid to wipe out the terror group and recover hostages.

The IDF has raided the hospital as part of its operation against Hamas, and said it had been asked by the hospital's director to help those who would like to leave do so by a secure route.

Medhat Abbas, a spokesman for the Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza, said the Israeli military had ordered the facility cleared and given the hospital an hour to get people out.

But army officials said they did not order an evacuation of al-Shifa, adding that medical staff are being allowed to stay in the hospital to help patients who cannot be moved.

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An aerial view shows the compound of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on November 7
An aerial view shows the compound of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on November 7. Picture: Getty

Dr Ahmed Mokhallalati, who works at the hospital, said that some 120 patients who were unable to leave would stay behind.

That included some people in intensive care and premature babies.

He added that he and five other doctors would remain in al-Shifa to care for them.

Dr Ramez Radwan, said conditions at the hospital were "miserable", and that there were no painkillers or antibiotics, the BBC reported.

The Gaza health ministry has said that some 12,300 people have died in Gaza, with more than 2,000 feared buried under the rubble.

Ambulances carrying victims of Israeli strikes crowd the entrance to the emergency ward of the Al-Shifa hospital earlier in the conflict
Ambulances carrying victims of Israeli strikes crowd the entrance to the emergency ward of the Al-Shifa hospital earlier in the conflict. Picture: Getty

Israel launched its bombardment of the territory, followed by a ground invasion, after Hamas attacked the south of the country, killing around 1,200 and taking more than 200 people hostage.

Many in the UK and other countries have said that Israel's response is disproportionate and have called for a ceasefire.

Others have argued that Hamas does not want a ceasefire, so Israelis are not safe while the group remains active - and that Israel must be allowed to rescue the hostages.

The Gaza health ministry also said on Saturday that around 50 people had been killed in an Israeli air strike on the al Fakhour school, which has been turned into a shelter since the start of the war.

UN Special Rapporteur tells Lewis Goodall that Israel is breaking international humanitarian law

The Tal al Zaatar school, in Beit Lahiya, was also attacked, according to the health ministry.

Neither of these reports has been independently verified. The IDF said it was investigating.

Phillippe Lazzarini of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency said: "Receiving horrifying images and footage of scores of people killed and injured in another UNRWA school sheltering thousands of displaced in the north of the Gaza Strip. 

"These attacks cannot become commonplace, they must stop. A humanitarian ceasefire cannot wait any longer."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has admitted that Israel has 'not been successful' in reducing civilian casualties, although he laid the blame largely at the door of Hamas.

"Any civilian death is a tragedy," he told CBS this week.

"And we shouldn't have any because we're doing everything we can to get the civilians out of harm's way, while Hamas is doing everything to keep them in harm's way.

"So we send leaflets, (we) call them on their cell phones, and we say: 'leave'. And many have left."

He added that the Israeli military will "try to finish the job with minimal civilian casualties".

"That's what we're trying to do. Minimal civilian casualties. But unfortunately, we're not successful," he said.

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