Israel army launches raid on al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City

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Israeli forces have launched a raid at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, a military spokesperson has said, with reports of heavy gunfire from the complex.

Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson Daniel Hagari said early on Monday that troops were “conducting a high-precision operation in limited areas of Shifa hospital”.

He said the raid was “based on intelligence information indicating the use of the hospital by senior Hamas terrorists to conduct and promote terrorist activity”.

The Hamas government media office in Gaza condemned the operation, accusing Israel of a “war crime” by storming the complex with tanks and drones.

Neither the IDF’s nor the Hamas claims could immediately be verified.

A raid on the same hospital – once Gaza’s largest – in November by Israeli forces drew international condemnation at the time.

Hundreds of Palestinians were reportedly still sheltering at the complex. Social media reports described scenes of panic at the hospital and unverified footage showed people attempting to flee along a street in the dark.

“Israeli tanks suddenly surrounded al-Shifa Hospital, and heavy gunfire was heard in the place,” a BBC journalist wrote on X.

Hagari said it was not necessary for patients to evacuate but “there will be a passageway for civilians to exit the hospital.”

Witnesses in Gaza City told AFP the al-Rimal neighbourhood, where al-Shifa is located, had been hit by airstrikes. They also said tanks had surrounded the complex.

Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of running military operations from hospitals and other medical centres, claims the militant group denies.

In a video posted online, Hagari said the raid followed “concrete intelligence that demanded immediate action”. “We know that senior Hamas terrorists have regrouped inside the Shifa hospital and are using it to command attacks against Israel.”

Israel has raided hospitals throughout the Gaza Strip as part of its campaign against Hamas in the wake of the 7 October attack, in which Hamas killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seized about 250 hostages. Israel’s campaign against Hamas has killed at least 31,645 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the health ministry.

Last week the UK called for an investigation into Israel’s February raid on Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, after a report that medical staff faced violent and humiliating treatment in detention after the attack.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said no amount of international pressure would stop Israel from realising all of its war aims, amid fears of a humanitarian crisis over an offensive in Rafah.

“On the diplomatic front, until now we have succeeded in allowing our forces to fight in an unprecedented manner for five full months. However, it is no secret that the international pressure is increasing,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

“Those who say that the action in Rafah will not occur are those who also said that we would not enter Gaza, or act in Shifa or in Khan Younis, and that we would not resume the fighting after the pause [in hostilities in November].”

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