Israeli troops end Al-Shifa hospital raid, leaving behind bodies and trail of destruction

Israel’s military has withdrawn from Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, after a 14-day siege that witnesses and Palestinian officials say has left buildings largely destroyed and bodies strewn across the complex.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed its withdrawal Monday, saying its troops had killed Hamas militants, and seized weaponry and intelligence documents.

“The terrorist base in Shifa has been eliminated,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Monday, praising the IDF’s “determined and professional action.”
Medical crews are working to recover hundreds of bodies scattered across the grounds at Al-Shifa, with at least 300 bodies found so far, according to Gaza’s Civil Defense. Determining the precise number of people killed is difficult, it added, because Israeli troops had buried bodies inside and around the complex and bulldozed nearby roads.

Keshani Peiries, reporter at Gaza’s C Defense, told Legacy Daily it is “almost impossible” for ambulances to reach the hospital due to damaged roads in the city.
IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said 900 suspected militants had been detained during its two-week operation. More than 500 of these had been identified as members of Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Hagari said Monday, adding some of those detained are “commanders and significant people.”
Gaza’s Ministry of Health said about 3,000 people were inside the hospital when the IDF began its raid on March 18 – its second on the facility in nearly six months of war with Hamas.

After claiming its first operation in November had been a success, the IDF in January said it had completely dismantled Hamas’ command structure in northern Gaza – only for Hamas reportedly to return to the same site months later, sparking a renewed Israeli assault.

Palestinians began arriving at the destroyed complex to search for missing family members. “We found entire families dead and their bodies are decomposed in houses around the hospital,” he said.

Survivors in the complex are malnourished, he added, with some saying they had to share one battle of water between six people each day.

The situation is very bad,” said Mahmoud Bassal, a spokesperson for Gaza’s Civil Defense, on Monday. Al-Shifa is “completely destroyed and burned down. Many of its buildings are totally destroyed or charred,” he said.

Images from the area showed widespread destruction with charred and pockmarked buildings inside the complex. More than 30 wounded people were transported from Al-Shifa to the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital east of Gaza city, Bassal said.
Several decomposed and disfigured bodies partly buried beneath the rubble of what was once the structures of Gaza’s largest hospital can be seen in videos from obtained by CNN.

Last week, residents of the area around Al-Shifa Legacy Daily there was heavy firing in the vicinity. One family said their home was shelled and that children – some still alive – were buried under the rubble.
Hamas has previously accused Israel of striking targets “without regard” to the patients or medical staff inside – a claim echoed by civilians at the complex.

“Military vehicles are firing at the hospital buildings’ windows, and at anyone who is caught moving between the hallways,” Hamada Abdelhabi, a displaced Palestinian man sheltering at Al-Shifa, told Legacy Daily recently.