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Crisis at Al Shifa Hospital

(15 Nov) Israeli forces have entered Gaza’s largest hospital in what the military claims to be a “targeted” operation. The gravity of the situation is exacerbated by reports from a journalist inside the hospital, revealing that soldiers are going room to room, interrogating individuals, while tanks and commando soldiers have infiltrated the main emergency department. What unfolds within the confines of the hospital raises serious concerns about the safety and well-being of civilians and patients alike.

The head of the emergencies department at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza said on Wednesday that the Israeli army was “blindfolding, stripping and taking displaced people sheltering to an unknown destination”.

He also refuted Israeli army claims that any incubators and baby food were given in the hospital.

“We have not seen anything off the back of these Israeli claims of them bridging in milk or incubators for babies,” he said.

“There are no clashes inside the hospital, only gunfire coming from the Israeli army,” he added.

He described the situation as “terrifying,” as dead bodies begin to decompose as it has not been possible to arrange burials for the victims of  the Israeli incursion. [1]

Due to communication problems updates from the hospital have been scarce. The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday that the organisation has lost touch with Doctors and medical staff at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza subsequent Israeli forces intrusion on the building.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus posted on social media platform X (formerly Twitter): “Reports of military incursion into Al-Shifa hospital are deeply concerning.”

“We’ve lost touch again with health personnel at the hospital. We’re extremely worried for their and their patients’ safety,” he added.[2]

Israel alleges that Hamas is operating a command center in tunnels beneath the hospital, a claim vehemently denied by Hamas. The United States, however, asserts that intelligence supports Israel’s accusations. This development has brought the longstanding Israel-Palestine conflict to a new, alarming level, with a hospital, traditionally a sanctuary for the sick and wounded, now becoming a battleground.

The news agency Al Jazeera spoke to Dr Ahmed El Mokhallalati, a surgeon inside the hospital , spoke of chaotic scenes and described the use of heavy gunfire and explosions reverberated within compound. “We saw the [Israeli] tanks and the bulldozers on the centre’s campus,”.

Mokhallalati spoke of the fear and anxiety among the patients and staff of the hospital as to their fate. “We don’t know what they will do to us. We don’t know whether they will kill people or terrorise them. We know all the propaganda is lies, and they know as well as we do that there is nothing at al-Shifa medical centre.” [3]

Al Jazeera further reported how staff inside al-Shifa Hospital had informed them that the Israeli army had bombed a medicine store room, and destroyed medical tools.

Additionally the human rights monitor Euro-Med Monitor  who have NGO’s on the ground near Al-Shifa hospital reported that two field team members of their organisation were trapped in the locality and unable to get to safety due to heavy gunfire from Israeli forces.

“We hold the Israeli military responsible for any harm caused to our staff members and volunteers across the strip,” they declared on social media platform X. [4]

The White House has issued a statement, emphasizing the need to protect civilians and patients. “We don’t want to see a firefight in a hospital,” the statement reads, underlining the international consensus on the sanctity of medical facilities, even in the midst of conflict.

The current Israeli offensive began in response to Hamas’s attacks on October 7, resulting in a devastating toll of 1,200 lives lost and more than 200 individuals taken hostage. The situation has only escalated since, with the Hamas-run health ministry reporting over 11,000 people killed in Gaza, including more than 4,500 children.

The raid on Gaza’s largest hospital is being condemned globally, with accusations of war crimes hurled at the Israeli forces. Hundreds of civilians sought refuge in the hospital, seeking safety alongside patients, only to find themselves caught in the crossfire of a conflict that seems to spare no one.

The international community must stand united in strongly condemning any actions that compromise the safety and well-being of civilians, particularly in places designed to provide care and healing. The situation demands an immediate and thorough investigation into the events unfolding within Gaza’s largest hospital, holding accountable those responsible for any violations of international law. As the world watches, the plight of the Palestine people has never been more apparent.






Tariq Kurd was born and grew up in Hertfordshire. His family is originally from Halabja, Kurdistan but due to periodic migration currently reside across the Baluchistan region.
He has a BA Hons. in History from the Open University. Besides English, Tariq can speak Baluchi and Brahvi, he is also conversant in Persian and Pashto.
His has an eclectic range of interests including military and tribal history. Tariq lives in London and is currently studying Islamic apologetics through the Sapience Institute.