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GAZA

After Israeli Withdrawal, Gaza’s Shifa Hospital Paints a Grim Picture of Devastation

Withdrawal
Withdrawal

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Israeli forces completed their withdrawal from Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Monday, concluding a two-week operation that left behind a scene of devastation. The aftermath of the incursion revealed a landscape of ruined buildings and Palestinian casualties strewn across the ground.

Upon the departure of Israeli forces, a rush of people, including those who had sought refuge within the premises of Gaza’s largest hospital, returned to assess the extent of the damage and retrieve personal belongings.

The Israeli military asserted that their operation in the hospital area resulted in the elimination or detention of hundreds of Hamas militants. They claimed to have confiscated weapons and intelligence documents, albeit at the cost of two soldiers’ lives. However, the military emphasized their efforts to minimize harm to civilians, patients, and medical personnel.

Contrary to Israeli claims, Hamas and medical staff denied any armed presence within hospital facilities. In response to the Israeli operation, the Hamas-run Gaza media office reported the deaths of 400 Palestinians in the vicinity of Al Shifa Hospital. Among the casualties were a female doctor and her son, also a doctor, and the medical complex itself was rendered inoperative.

Ismail Al-Thawabta, director of the media office, condemned the actions of the Israeli forces, describing the destruction of Al Shifa Medical Complex as a “crime against humanity.” He alleged that the occupation forces razed and incinerated all structures within the complex, effectively transforming it into a mass grave.

Reports from Gaza’s Civil Emergency Service further accused Israeli forces of executing two individuals found at the hospital complex in restraints. Additionally, they claimed that bulldozers were used to excavate the grounds, disturbing corpses buried beneath the rubble.

Reuters could not independently verify these allegations, and the Israeli military did not respond immediately to requests for comment. It’s worth noting that in previous instances during the ongoing conflict, Israeli forces have conducted forensic inspections by exhuming bodies, suspecting some to be hostages taken by Hamas during an October 7 incursion that precipitated the conflict.

Footage circulated on social media, although not verified by Reuters, depicted a grim scene at Al Shifa Hospital, with bodies lying amidst the remnants of the structure. The hospital’s outer walls were notably absent, and the surrounding area appeared heavily scarred by bulldozing and fires.

Witnesses, like 43-year-old Samir Basel, expressed profound grief over the devastation, lamenting the loss of lives and infrastructure caused by the Israeli incursion. Basel described the hospital as being utterly destroyed, underscoring the urgent need for reconstruction.

Another video captured Palestinians salvaging belongings from the rubble, highlighting the desperate situation faced by displaced individuals who had sought refuge at the hospital.

Meanwhile, the conflict’s toll on Gaza continues to mount, with Palestinian health authorities reporting over 32,000 fatalities, including 63 deaths within the past 24 hours alone. Israeli estimates indicate that Hamas instigated the conflict on October 7, resulting in 1,200 casualties and the seizure of 253 hostages. The Israeli military has published the names of 257 soldiers killed in combat in Gaza.

Efforts to broker a ceasefire persist, with mediators engaging in discussions with Israeli officials in Egypt. However, a Palestinian official close to the mediation efforts expressed skepticism about the prospects for a breakthrough, indicating ongoing challenges in bridging the gap between Hamas and Israeli positions.


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