IDF says more terrorists killed in recent al-Shifa hospital raid than in any other operation

The latest operation was the second time the IDF conducted a raid on al-Shifa hospital since the war began


Damage in the area around Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital after the IDF withdrew on April 1, 2024 (Credit: /AFP via Getty Images)

The IDF has killed more Hamas militants in the recent operation in Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital than in any other single operation since the war began, according to the IDF’s chief spokesperson Daniel Hagari.

The operation – which began on 18 March and ended on April 1 – reportedly killed some 200 terrorists from Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad faction and took more than 900 captive including senior commanders. Israeli troops also seized weapons and millions in US and Jordanian currencies from inside the hospital, according to the IDF.

Thousands of Palestinians who had sought refuge in al-Shifa hospital were forced to evacuate through a checkpoint to shelters south of the hospital, while Israeli special forces conducted room-to-room searches. CCTV footage and video from inside showed firefights erupting as terrorists had barricaded themselves in the maternity ward and emergency rooms. Other Hamas members, according to the IDF, fired mortars at the hospital and Israeli troops from outside.

The al-Shifa raid is the second time the hospital has been targeted after a previous much larger raid in November last year. Before being able to enter the hospital that time, the IDF sent some 100,000 troops supported by heavy air and artillery strikes. The latest raid, which resulted in the deaths of three Israeli soldiers, was made up of a much smaller force not much more than a single brigade, about 1000 troops.

The IDF  has claimed the latest raid was necessary because Hamas had returned to the hospital, which they say is being used as a command centre and sits atop a vast network of tunnels, making it a legitimate military target. Unable to match with IDF technology and firepower, a fragmented Hamas operates in smaller cells and deploys guerrilla tactics.

A senior Israeli military official said that it was because those tunnels were destroyed or blocked during the first raid that the IDF was able to pinpoint, isolate and capture more terrorists this time around.

Israeli officials say Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants have returned to al-Shifa based on the assumption that the IDF would not return to it due to the international outcry Israel received during the initial raid last year, as well as the aid available to them there.

Tamir Hayman, former head of Israeli military intelligence, said the recent raid “won’t be the last operation and it won’t be the decisive operation. It’s part of a sequence that will take many months until the ultimate erosion of Hamas.”

Other analysts have said that such an operation is likely to be repeated until a new governing regime for Gaza can take hold.

Palestinian activist Samer Sinijlawi said: “Whenever [Israel] leaves one square kilometre Hamas rebuilds… Someone needs to take the keys from Hamas in Gaza.”

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