IDF withdraws from Gaza’s main hospital after two-week operation

Troops reportedly engaged in combat with Hamas operatives and located weapons in the hospital during two week siege


Palestinians inspect the damage at Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital after the Israeli military withdrew from the complex housing the hospital on 1 April 2024. (Photo by AFP via Getty Images)

The IDF has withdrawn troops and tanks from the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City after a ground operation that lasted two weeks.

In an update shared on Sunday, the IDF said its troops in Shifa had “eliminated terrorists in close-quarter combat and located weapons in the area, all the while preventing harm to civilians, patients and medical teams.”

Soldiers from elite unit Shayetet 13, the 401st Brigade and the Nahal Brigade under the command of the 162nd Division left the Strip’s largest medical complex.

Approximately 200 terrorists were killed and more than 500 Hamas and Islamic Jihad members were arrested during the operation, including senior officials said the IDF.

The statement noted that IDF soldiers discovered weapons hidden “in the pillows and beds” of patients in the maternity ward of Al-Shifa, as well as in the ceilings and walls of the compound. During a search of the premises, soldiers “encountered armed terrorists and senior members of the Hamas terrorist organisation in the stairwell,” leading to a “chase and exchange of fire” which resulted in the death of two Hamas operatives.

The IDF said in an update Wednesday that “approximately 200 terrorists have been eliminated in the area of the hospital since the beginning of the activity.”

The raid was initiated after Israel claimed to have intelligence indicating that Hamas militants were operating from within the hospital complex to launch attacks, though Hamas has denied that it uses medical sites to carry out military operations.

In a statement following Monday morning’s withdrawal, the IDF said troops had "completed precise operational activity in the area of the Shifa Hospital and exited the area".

The raid left Al-Shifa hospital in ruins and, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 21 patients at the hospital have been killed since the IDF’s siege of the medical complex began on 18 March. Intense fighting in the area around the hospital has been reported in recent weeks, and images from the scene show widespread destruction to the complex.

The siege was condemned by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who wrote on 18 March that “hospitals should never be battlegrounds.”

The IDF first invaded Al-Shifa in November 2023 to root out Hamas operatives believed to be working from within the complex and similarly found weapons caches and combat gear during the offensive.

Despite Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announcing in January that the most intensive phase of operations in northern Gaza was complete, the IDF returned to Al-Shifa in March 2024 amid intelligence reports of Hamas using certain wards of the hospital for military purposes.

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