Palestinians say Israeli troops have withdrawn from Gaza’s main hospital after 2-week raid

Palestinian residents say Israeli forces have withdrawn from the Gaza Strip’s main hospital after two weeks of attacks, leaving behind a vast area of ​​destruction.

Hundreds of people returned to Shifa Hospital and surrounding areas after being evacuated early Monday morning, where bodies were found both inside and outside the facility.

There was no immediate comment from the military, which described the raid as one of its most successful operations in the nearly six-month war.

A Palestinian carries a wounded man following an Israeli airstrike near Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip, March 31, 2024. AP

The military said it had killed numerous Hamas and other terrorists, including senior operatives, and seized weapons and valuable intelligence.

Mohamed Mahdi, one of the returnees, described scenes of “complete destruction”. He said several buildings were burnt down.

He counted six bodies in the area, two of which were in the hospital courtyard.

A Palestinian helps another injured victim of an Israeli airstrike near Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip, March 31, 2024. AP

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

He said several patients were taken to nearby Ahri Hospital.

He said military bulldozers cleared snow from a makeshift cemetery on the hospital grounds.

Mourners pray next to the body of Ismail Abed al-Daya, a Palestinian aid truck driver who was killed in an Israeli attack, according to health officials, at Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deirybarah, central Gaza Strip, on March 31. . 2024. Reuters

“The situation is indescribable,” he said. “The occupation has destroyed any sense of life here.”

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

Critics accuse the military of recklessly endangering civilians and crippling a medical sector already overwhelmed with war-wounded soldiers.

The military raided Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, in November after previously announcing that Hamas maintained an elaborate command and control center in and around the compound.

It was revealed that a tunnel ran beneath the hospital, leading to several rooms.

The war began on October 7, when Hamas-led terrorists stormed into southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 250 hostages.

Israel counterattacked with air, land, and sea attacks, killing more than 32,000 Palestinians, displacing most of the territory’s population, and pushing a third of the population to the brink of starvation.