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Eyewitnesses Report 'Unlawful Killings' by IDF as Raid on al-Shifa Hospital Continues

One eyewitness said that "Israeli soldiers repeatedly took prisoners into the hospital's morgue area, that gunshots were then heard, and that the soldiers left without the prisoners."

Smoke rises from Al-Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza City after Israeli army forces detonated the specialized surgery building -- image via X

By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

The Israeli military's raid of Gaza's largest hospital stretched into its fourth consecutive day on Thursday as humanitarian aid groups, United Nations officials, and human rights organizations voiced alarm over the impact on patients, healthcare workers, and displaced people trapped inside the besieged facility.

The multi-day raid that began earlier this week marks the second time Israeli forces have stormed the hospital since the Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on October 7. In November, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) raided al-Shifa after claiming—without evidence—that Hamas used the hospital as a command center.

The IDF says it has killed more than 140 people it described as "terrorists" in the latest raid, but eyewitnesses told the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor that IDF soldiers "have carried out unlawful killings and executions against displaced Palestinian civilians" inside al-Shifa.

"A survivor who asked to be identified only as 'M.K.' confirmed that Israeli soldiers repeatedly took prisoners into the hospital's morgue area, that gunshots were then heard, and that the soldiers left without the prisoners," Euro-Med said in a statement Wednesday.

M.K. told the group that Israeli soldiers "detained me and handcuffed me in the hospital courtyard," leaving him "undressed for more than nine hours."

"About four times during that period, I saw soldiers lead groups of detainees—[always] at least three people and [never] more than 10—into the hospital buildings, particularly the morgue building where bodies had previously been kept," said M.K. "Gunshots were heard, with the soldiers then leaving the area to bring another group there."

CNN reported Wednesday that medical personnel and journalists at the hospital were also detained by Israeli forces and subjected to degrading treatment.

"Palestinian reporters and hospital staff described scenes of humiliating interrogations where colleagues had been undressed and left outside in the cold, after the Israel Defense Forces laid siege to the largest hospital in the enclave in the early hours of Monday," the outlet reported. "One man who was detained told CNN Israeli forces released him without his ID or mobile phone."

Melanie Ward, CEO of Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), said Thursday that she and her colleagues "continue to be deeply worried for patients and staff" at al-Shifa.

"Patients cannot receive the care they need due to ongoing Israeli military activity," said Ward. "This includes dangerously ill child amputees who need to be transferred and currently cannot be."

Al-Shifa is the only partially functioning hospital in northern Gaza, where the population is facing famine conditions due to Israel's persistent obstruction of humanitarian aid deliveries. Al-Shifa had resumed some healthcare services following the IDF's November raid, but the latest assault on the hospital has put patient care in jeopardy, with reports indicating Israeli attacks on key parts of the facility.

Reuters reported Thursday that residents near al-Shifa described the area around the facility as a war zone and said Israeli forces "had blown up houses close by as buildings in the hospital complex burned."

As the IDF kicked off its latest raid on al-Shifa earlier this week, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on social media that "hospitals should never be battlegrounds."

The WHO has recorded more than 400 attacks on healthcare facilities or personnel in Gaza since Israel's assault on the territory began in October.

"We are terribly worried about the situation at al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza, which is endangering health workers, patients, and civilians," Tedros wrote on social media. "The hospital has only recently restored minimal health services. Any hostilities or militarization of the facility jeopardize health services, access for ambulances, and delivery of life-saving supplies. Hospitals must be protected. Ceasefire!"

Jake Johnson is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams.

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.


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