(CTN News) – A raid by Israeli forces on the Gaza Strip’s main hospital Wednesday fueled even more fears for the hundreds of patients and staff trapped in the Al-Shifa complex with dwindling supplies of food, fuel, and medicine.
At the hospital, IDF soldiers carried out a “targeted and precise attack on Hamas.” Hamas activity had been detected, so the operation was an “operational necessity.”
The Gaza Strip’s director of hospitals, Mohammad Zaqout, said Israeli troops entered Al-Shifa’s surgery building at 2 a.m. in Gaza. It took them over 10 hours to search the medical teams, employees, and patients.
The detainees forced them to undress,” Zaqout said.
There’s still no concrete evidence to back up the IDF’s claims that Hamas was at the hospital, which both medical staff and Hamas deny.
World Health Organization says it’s lost touch with health personnel at Al-Shifa on Wednesday.
There are dozens of premature babies inside the hospital, where thousands of civilians are trapped. News that troops had entered Al-Shifa drew new expressions of concern from some U.S. leaders, the United Nations and the World Health Organization.
Thousands of medical staff, wounded people, and displaced people were trapped inside the complex, Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said.
The raid was “a new crime against Gaza’s humanity.”
Al-Kaila works for Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority that partially runs the West Bank. Hamas, which controls Gaza, is a rival of their Fatah movement.
Over the course of the conflict, Israel has maintained Hamas hides in tunnels under Gaza hospitals, including Al-Shifa. According to the White House, Hamas concealed military operations at Al-Shifa hospital.
Prior to entering the hospital complex, the IDF said its troops encountered explosive devices and terrorist cells, but didn’t elaborate.
Terrorists were killed in an engagement, it said.
We couldn’t independently verify those claims.
Hamas condemned the “aggressive incursion into Al-Shifa.”
There’s a brutal assault on a health facility protected by the Fourth Geneva Convention now, the statement says.
According to Hamas, Israeli soldiers stormed the complex and shot and swept the medical buildings.
They spread fear among the wounded, sick, and displaced, and more than one explosion sound was heard inside,” the statement said.
The night before, Dr. Ahmed El Mokhallalati, a plastic surgeon at Al-Shifa Hospital, told Reuters that a tank entered the hospital through the eastern main gate, and then parts of it were shot directly.
Yesterday evening they started bombarding and shooting around the hospital and within the hospital,” he said.
A patient’s room was hit, leaving a hole in the wall, but “fortunately no one got hurt.”
“We don’t know what to do,” he added, explaining that people couldn’t move between buildings. “It’s totally scary,” he said.
The doctor called the IDF’s claim that Hamas is based at Al-Shifa a “big lie.”
On Wednesday, News couldn’t reach the Mokhallalati.
A video shared by Reuters shows what it says is a doctor inside Al-Shifa describing damage to the intensive care unit.
According to the doctor, the ICU was struck at dawn, forcing medical workers to take patients into the corridors of the department for their safety. Doctors said the move put patients’ lives at risk. The video couldn’t be independently verified by News.
Using tanks, Israeli soldiers delivered incubators, baby food, and medical supplies to Al-Shifa Hospital as they launched their operation. Boxes labeled “medical supplies” and “baby food” were shared on X.
Medical teams and Arabic speakers were involved in the Al-Shifa mission. There was no “intent” to cause harm to civilians, the statement added.
In an interview with Reuters, El Mokhallalati said he feared for patients’ safety.
“We’re happy that we’re staying at the hospital and helping our patients,” he said. “I’m scared they’ll evacuate the hospital in a way – they’ll just throw the patients everywhere, without giving them their basic right to treatment.”