Israeli soldiers withdraw from Gaza's main hospital after two weeks, leaving facility heavily damaged

1 April 2024, 09:54 | Updated: 1 April 2024, 14:54

Israeli troops have withdrawn from the Shifa hospital
Israeli troops have withdrawn from the Shifa hospital. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

The IDF has withdrawn from the main hospital in Gaza after two weeks, with Palestine residents saying it has been left in "total destruction".

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Israel said that its troops had left the al-Shifa hospital after a raid to kill Palestinian militants, and seize weapons and intelligence documents.

The IDF added that it had carried out its operations "while preventing harm to civilians, patients and medical teams".

Hundreds of people came back to the hospital and the surrounding area after the withdrawal early on Monday.

A resident who had come back to the area said Israeli troops had left "total destruction" when they departed.

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Israeli army withdraws from Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital, leaving destruction, casualties behind
Israeli army withdraws from Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital, leaving destruction, casualties behind. Picture: Getty

Another resident, Yahia Abu Auf, said there were still patients, medical workers and displaced people sheltering inside the medical compound.

He said several patients had been taken to the nearby Ahli Hospital, and that army bulldozers had ploughed over a makeshift cemetery inside the hospital compound.

"The situation is indescribable," he said. "The occupation destroyed all sense of life here."

Israel has accused Hamas of using hospitals for military purposes and has raided several medical facilities.

Israeli army withdraws from Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital, leaving destruction, casualties behind
Israeli army withdraws from Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital, leaving destruction, casualties behind. Picture: Getty

Critics accuse the army of recklessly endangering civilians and of decimating a health sector already overwhelmed with war wounded

The war began on October 7, when Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 250 people hostage.

Israel responded with an air, land and sea offensive that has killed at least 32,782 Palestinians, according to Gaza's Health Ministry. The ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its count but says women and children have made up around two-thirds of those killed.

The Israeli military says it has killed over 13,000 Hamas fighters, and blames the civilian death toll on Palestinian militants because they fight in dense residential areas.

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