Israeli troops leave Gaza's destroyed Shifa Hospital

Israeli troops leave Gaza's destroyed Shifa Hospital

Palestinians enter the ruins of Al Shifa Hospital on Monday, in the aftermath of the two-week Israeli search and destroy operation. Israeli forces announced on April 1 they had withdrawn from the hospital. (Photo: Reuters)
Palestinians enter the ruins of Al Shifa Hospital on Monday, in the aftermath of the two-week Israeli search and destroy operation. Israeli forces announced on April 1 they had withdrawn from the hospital. (Photo: Reuters)

JERUSALEM/CAIRO - Israeli forces have withdrawn from Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City after a two-week operation, the Israeli military said on Monday, leaving behind a wasteland of destroyed buildings and Palestinian bodies scattered in the dirt of the complex.

Hundreds of residents rushed to the area around the Gaza Strip's largest hospital to check on damage to the surrounding residential districts after fighting between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group that administers Gaza.

The Israeli military said it had killed and detained hundreds of gunmen in clashes in the area of the hospital, and seized weaponry and intelligence documents. Hamas and medical staff deny that Palestinian fighters have any armed presence in hospitals.

A spokesman for Gaza's Civil Emergency Service said Israeli forces had executed two people whose bodies were found at the complex in handcuffs, and used bulldozers to dig up the grounds of the complex and exhume buried bodies.

Reuters could not verify the allegation of executions and Israel's military did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Footage circulated on social media and not yet verified by Reuters showed the bodies of dead Palestinians, some covered in dirty blankets, scattered on the ground around the charred hulk of the hospital building, many of whose outer walls were missing. It showed the grounds heavily ploughed up, and numerous buildings outside the facility either flattened or burned down.

"I haven't stopped crying since I arrived here, horrible massacres were committed by the occupation here," said Samir Basel, 43, speaking to Reuters via a chat app as he toured Al Shifa. "The place is destroyed, buildings have been burnt and destroyed. This place needs to be rebuilt - there is no Shifa hospital anymore," Basel said.

Israel said operations inside Al Shifa had been conducted "while preventing harm to civilians, patients and medical teams".  

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