Israel Its army launched a “targeted” operation against Hamas early Wednesday inside Gaza’s largest hospital, believed to be housing thousands of Palestinians.
Conditions at Al-Shifa Hospital are no longer operational due to running out of fuel Deteriorated rapidly In recent days, amid intense fighting, doctors have warned of an even more “catastrophic” situation for patients, staff and displaced people. Wednesday’s raid sparked international criticism.
In a statement published online, the Israel Defense Forces The (IDF) said it had launched “a precise and targeted operation against Hamas in a specific area in the Shifa hospital.”
IDF spokesman Peter Lerner told CNN later Wednesday that the operation at Al-Shifa Hospital was “continuing.” So far, the military has found no sign of hostages inside the hospital, Israeli radio reported.
A senior Israeli security official told reporters Wednesday afternoon that the IDF had no information that those inside the hospital had been interrogated.
Israeli soldiers, he said, were “conducting search and interrogation operations with the youth amid intense and violent gunfire inside the hospital.” He added that the Israeli army is “calling the youth through megaphones to raise their hands, come out, surrender.”
Earlier, he said, there was gunfire across the hospital courtyard.
The Israeli army entered the ground floor and basement of the surgery building in al-Shifa, Mohammed Jagout, director-general of hospitals in Gaza, told Al Jazeera. Later, he said, Israeli tanks began to leave the compound.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Israel again accused Hamas of continuing to use the large hospital complex for military purposes, saying it “affects the hospital’s protected status under international law”.
Hamas and hospital officials continue to deny Israel’s claims that it has built a command center under a Hamas hospital. Human rights organizations strongly condemned Israel’s attack on al-Shifa, as the World Health Organization and Palestinian health officials warned. Lost contact With staff inside the hospital.
International pressure on the Israeli government has intensified in recent days amid accounts of dire conditions in Gaza’s other fuel-starved hospitals and severe shortages of food and water.
Martin Griffiths, the UN’s emergency relief coordinator, said he was “appalled by reports of military attacks on Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza”.
“The safety of newborns, patients, medical staff and all members of the public must trump all other concerns. Hospitals are not battlefields,” Griffiths said on the X site, formerly known as Twitter.
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry condemned Israel’s “storm attack” on al-Shifa, saying it “violated international humanitarian law”.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday repeated his calls for a ceasefire in Gaza “in the name of humanity”.
A doctor inside al-Shifa told CNN he was alerted 30 minutes before the Israeli operation began.
“We have been asked to stay away from windows and balconies. We are hearing armored vehicles, which are very close to the entrance to the compound,” said Dr. Khaled Abu Samra.
Gaza Hospitals Director General Jackwood said newborns at Al-Shifa Hospital were in “serious danger” as the situation continued to deteriorate.
“We’ve said multiple times that when we evacuate the hospital… we don’t have room to move 40 incubators out of the hospital,” Jackwood said.
CNN could not independently confirm his assessment of the situation. But CNN reported earlier Photographs published by Al-Shifa show newborns wrapped in foil, removed from incubators in unsuccessful attempts to keep them alive after oxygen supplies ran out.
Hundreds of staff and patients are still inside Al-Shifa, according to the hospital’s latest reports, along with several thousand who have sought refuge from Israeli air and ground attacks.
An Israeli statement said, “The IDF is conducting a ground operation in Gaza to defeat Hamas and rescue our hostages. Israel is at war with Hamas, not with the civilians in Gaza.
Hamas’s statement blamed both Israel and the United States for the attack on the Israeli military hospital. By supporting what it called Israel’s “false narrative” that Hamas uses al-Shifa as a command and control base, it said the US had given Israel “a green light to carry out more massacres against civilians”.
Hours before Israel’s attack, the White House and the Pentagon said it was Hamas Store weapons and operate the command center From the hospital.
The Pentagon said the US has newly declassified intelligence to show that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad al-Shifa are using the hospitals as a way to “cover and support their military operations and hold hostages”.
Palestinian Health Minister Dr Mai al-Qaila said the Israeli military attack represented “a new crime against humanity, medical staff and patients” and could have “catastrophic consequences” for patients and medical staff.
Israel declared war on Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza, and imposed a “total blockade” on October 7 following terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel. 1,200 people were killed in the attacks by Hamas and about 240 others were killed. The hostages, most of whom are being held captive in Gaza.
Since then, the Israeli response has killed at least 11,255 Palestinians — including 4,630 children — according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah, which draws medical resources from Gaza.
‘Cries of old men and cries of children’
People inside al-Shifa have lost contact with other buildings in the compound, hampering efforts by humanitarian workers and Palestinian authorities to get updated information on the dire conditions facing terrorist-affected patients and medical staff.
Omar Zaqout, supervisor of the ER Department, said that people are taking shelter inside buildings and away from windows and doors.
“We don’t know what’s going on outside, all we hear are explosions, gunshots, the screams of old people and the cries of children,” Jackwood added.
He said he had previously seen Israeli soldiers in the buildings surrounding the ER and people being handcuffed, stripped and blindfolded. CNN was not on the ground and could not independently verify his account. CNN has reached out to the IDF for comment on the allegations, but has not yet heard back.
Jackwood, director general of hospitals in Gaza, accused IDF medical teams of interrogating patients and their spouses.
“Some of the guards were forced to take off their clothes,” said Jackwood, who was not at the hospital but spoke to doctors inside.
IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the Israeli forces “include medical teams and Arabic speakers who have received specific training to prepare for this complex and sensitive environment with the aim of causing no harm to civilians.” CNN could not verify Hagari’s claims.
For his part, Zaqout emphasized that all people in the hospital are civilians. “The situation is dire right now.”
Check out this interactive content on CNN.com
Earlier this week, doctors and journalists described desperate efforts to keep premature babies alive and minimally invasive candlelit procedures as food, milk and water ran out.
Hospital director Mohammed Abu Salmiya told Al Jazeera there were plans to bury more than 150 bodies, but he was worried the cemetery would not be large enough. “The smell of the dead is unbearable, most of the bodies are women and children,” Qader al-Zanoun, a reporter for the Palestinian news agency Wafa, told CNN.
In recent days, 15 patients have died in al-Shifa, six of them newborns, due to a lack of electricity and medical supplies, the Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah said, citing its figures from the Hamas-controlled territory.
Egyptian Health Minister Khaled Abdel Ghafar said on Tuesday that steps were being taken to bring 36 newborns from al-Shifa to Egypt, although such a transfer would be risky.
Registered by the World Health Organization At least 137 attacks Regarding health facilities in Gaza, it said there were 521 deaths and 686 injuries.
Other protected sites such as schools, civilian shelters and United Nations facilities have already been damaged or destroyed in Israeli airstrikes. On Monday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East announced that more than 100 UN staff had been killed in Gaza since fighting began — the most in United Nations history.
This is a developing story and is being updated.