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Israeli army withdraws from al-Chifa hospital in Gaza, leaving destruction and dead bodies

Photo: Agence France-Presse Destroyed, charred or flattened buildings, streets littered with rubble and large mounds of sand. AFP images show a landscape of devastation in the al-Chifa hospital complex in Gaza, stormed on March 18 by the army after accusing Hamas, which denies, of using it as a center of command.

Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Benoît Finck – Agence France-Presse respectively in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem

April 1, 2024

  • Middle East

Israeli soldiers withdrew from the al-Chifa hospital complex in Gaza on Monday after two weeks of operations, leaving behind immense destruction and dead bodies according to a doctor at the largest hospital in the Palestinian territory ravaged by nearly six months of war.

As this conflict between the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and Israel continues to rage, the Hamas Ministry of Health announced the death of at least 60 people, the majority civilians, in Israeli nighttime bombings on the small strip of Palestinian land threatened by famine.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was operated on Sunday evening “successfully” for a hernia according to his office, while a new demonstration demanding his resignation and the release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza is planned for the evening in Jerusalem.

Still in Israeli territory, the police announced Monday that they had arrested in the south, where she lives, the sister of Ismaïl Haniyeh, the leader of the Hamas movement which took power in Gaza in 2007 and is considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union.

Destroyed, charred or flattened buildings, streets littered with rubble and large mounds of sand. AFP images show a landscape of devastation in the al-Chifa hospital complex in Gaza (north) stormed on March 18 by the army after accusing Hamas, which denies, of using it as a command center.

On Monday, the army announced the end of its operations in al-Shifa, during which it claimed to have killed more than 200 “terrorists” and found numerous weapons.

A spokesperson for the Hamas-run Gaza Civil Defense Agency reported 300 deaths in and around the hospital during the Israeli operation.

“A bottle of water”

Doctors and civilians at the complex told AFP that at least 20 bodies had been found, some of which appeared to have been driven over by military vehicles.

Several bodies were found near the western entrance to the complex, used by the army at the time of its withdrawal on Monday, according to the same sources. An AFP correspondent saw a decomposed body with tire marks near the entrance, but was unable to say when.

“The tanks passed over bodies,” said a witness who preferred not to give his name.

Questioned by AFP, the army did not immediately comment.

On Sunday, the director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, indicated that 21 patients had died during the Israeli operation in al-Chifa. There remain 107 patients there and since Saturday, “there is only one bottle of water left for 15 people,” he added.

Israeli troops are also continuing operations in the areas of the Nasser and al-Amal hospitals in Khan Younes in the south, according to Hamas.

On October 7, Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza carried out an attack in southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of at least 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on data official. According to Israel, around 250 people were also kidnapped and 130 of them are still hostages, including 34 who died in Gaza.

Israel vowed to destroy Hamas and its army launched an intense aerial bombardment campaign on Gaza, followed 20 days later by a ground offensive that saw its soldiers advance from north to south from the small strip of land, to the gates of Rafah.

Israeli operations have cost the lives of 32,845 people, most of them civilians, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health and caused a humanitarian catastrophe and colossal destruction.

The Israeli army announced that 600 soldiers had been killed since October 7, including 256 in the ground offensive.

Haniyeh's sister arrested in Israel

In a message sent to Gazans on Sunday, Hamas “thanks them for their patience and resistance in the face of the Zionist genocide” and presents its “apologies” for the movement’s “failings” in managing the territory during this war that he said he wanted to continue until the “defeat of the enemy”.

Nearly six months after the start of the conflict, Israeli police announced they had arrested Sabah Abdel Salam Haniyeh, the 57-year-old sister of the Hamas leader who has Israeli citizenship, in her home in Tel Sheva. She is notably “suspected of inciting acts of terrorism in Israel”.

His brother, Ismaïl Haniyeh, is based in Qatar.

It is in Qatar and Egypt where indirect discussions have taken place in recent months between Israel and Hamas via international mediators — Egypt, Qatar, United States — with a view to concluding an agreement on truce associated with release of hostages.

But this agreement is far away, the two protagonists accusing each other of blocking it.

And this despite urgent calls for a ceasefire from international organizations, warning of a risk of famine for the majority of the 2.4 million inhabitants of Gaza, subjected by Israel to a siege since October 9 and a total blockade since 2007.

A second boat from Cyprus carrying humanitarian aid was seen off the coast of Gaza, according to the site Vesselfinder.com, as aid trickles into the territory.

On Monday, a videoconference meeting is planned between Israeli and American officials on the subject of the ground offensive announced by Israel in Rafah, where 1.5 million Palestinians, most of them displaced, are crowded together. Concerned for civilians, the international community, including the United States, is opposed to this operation.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116