Skip to main content

War on Gaza: Israeli forces launch another raid on al-Shifa hospital

Around 30,000 people, including patients and displaced Palestinians, said to be under siege in the medical complex
Palestinian wounded by Israeli gunfire receives treatment at Gaza City's al-Shifa hospital on 15 March 2024 (MEE/Mohammed al-Hajjar)
Palestinian wounded by Israeli gunfire receives treatment at Gaza City's al-Shifa hospital on 15 March 2024 (MEE/Mohammed al-Hajjar)

Israeli forces launched a new raid on Gaza City's al-Shifa hospital on Monday, just as Palestinians were preparing to have their pre-fast Ramadan meal before dawn. 

The attack started shortly after 2 am local time (12 am GMT) with tanks advancing towards the medical complex under the cover of heavy aerial bombardment. 

Tanks surrounded the hospital before shelling some of its buildings, including the surgery department, according to the Palestinian health ministry. 

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Initial reports say several people were killed and wounded but medical teams have not been able to reach them due to heavy Israeli fire in the hospital's courtyards. 

"The occupation army invaded al-Shifa Hospital for the fourth time since the beginning of the aggression against Gaza, directly shooting the specialised surgery building with bullets and targeting it with missiles," the ministry said.

The entrance of the hospital also caught fire due to the heavy shelling, it added, warning that patients and families sheltering at the site were besieged. 

At least 30,000 people were inside the hospital at the time of the attack, including displaced families, patients and medical staff. 

Mohammed Eliwa, a journalist reporting from al-Shifa hospital, told Al Jazeera Arabic that Israeli forces were shooting anyone moving in the courtyards. 

Hamadah Abdel Hadi, an activist also inside the hospital, said Israeli forces broke into the hospital and immediately targeted Al Jazeera staff. 

Ismail Alghoul, the network's correspondent, was beaten and dragged before getting arrested. Broadcast vehicles in the hospital were also destroyed, Al Jazeera said. 

The Gaza-based government media office condemned the raid as a "war crime" and part of a "deliberate" Israeli policy to "eliminate the health sector and destroy hospitals". 

It said the Israeli army stormed al-Shifa with tanks, heavily armed soldiers and drones, "and began shooting inside the complex, which sparked fear and panic among the wounded, sick, and displaced".

"This threatens the lives of thousands of people inside," it added. 

The Israeli military said the operation in al-Shifa was launched based on information that Hamas officials were in the area and repeated claims that the hospital was recently being used as a "command centre".

How and why did Gaza hospitals become primary targets?
Read More »

It later said 80 people were detained from the hospital and that troops had "established control" over the facility. 

Middle East Eye could not independently verify any of the military's claims, which were not backed by evidence. 

Hamas said the raid on al-Shifa hospital was an expression of "confusion, chaos and hopelessness" by the Israeli army amid its inability to achieve the stated military goals. 

Al-Shifa hospital, the biggest in the Gaza Strip before the war, was brought to its knees last year following a weeks-long Israeli raid in which doctors were detained and key medical equipment was destroyed. 

The hospital has been providing basic first aid services since Israeli forces withdrew from its vicinity earlier this year. 

The Monday raid comes as the Israeli government prepares to send a delegation to Qatar to participate in renewed indirect negotiations with Hamas. 

The Palestinian group put forth a new proposal for a deal to end the war in stages and swap prisoners. 

Since the war started in October, Israeli forces have killed 31,600 Palestinians, including at least 13,000 children.

Over 73,000 have been wounded and an estimated 8,000 are missing and believed to be buried dead under rubble.

Palestinian attacks have killed more than 1,400 Israelis in the same period.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.