IDF ends Shifa Hospital raid, says it killed 200 terror operatives, arrested 500 more
Israel at warValuable intelligence was seized

IDF ends Shifa Hospital raid, says it killed 200 terror operatives, arrested 500 more

Palestinians report widespread destruction in wake of two-week operation; IDF soldier killed Sunday is 600th military fatality since October 7 Hamas onslaught

Weapons captured by troops of the Nahal Brigade’s reconnaissance unit at the maternity ward of Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, in a handout image published March 31, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
Weapons captured by troops of the Nahal Brigade’s reconnaissance unit at the maternity ward of Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, in a handout image published March 31, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces withdrew early Monday from the Gaza City complex housing the Shifa Hospital, after a two-week raid in which the military said it detained or killed hundreds of terror suspects.

During the raid, which began March 18, the IDF said troops captured some 900 suspects, of whom more than 500 were confirmed to be terror operatives, and killed more than 200 gunmen. Among those killed and detained were top commanders in Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Valuable intelligence was also seized, the IDF said.

The military confirmed that its forces had left the hospital after earlier describing the Shifa raid as one of the most successful operations of the nearly six-month war.

The military also said Monday that it had lost its 600th soldier since the war began on October 7. Staff Sergeant Nadav Cohen, 20, from Haifa, was killed fighting in southern Gaza as part of the 7th Armored Brigade’s 77th Battalion. He was the 256th soldier to fall during the military’s ground offensive in Gaza. Most of the other soldiers were killed repelling Hamas’s assault, and 10 have been killed in clashes with Hezbollah on the northern border.

Eyewitnesses said dozens of airstrikes and shells had hit the area around the medical complex overnight Monday, with Hamas saying the Israeli strikes had provided cover for the withdrawing tanks, armored vehicles, and troops.

Despite overwhelming evidence, Hamas has denied operating from Shifa and other health facilities.

Following the IDF withdrawal, scenes of widespread devastation were revealed at the hospital, where many of the gunmen trapped had refused to surrender and engaged in fierce battles with Israeli troops.

“Dozens of bodies, some of them decomposed, have been recovered from in and around the Shifa medical complex,” the Hamas-run health ministry said in a statement.

The Israeli military “withdrew from the Shifa medical complex after burning down the complex buildings and putting it completely out of service,” the ministry run by the terror group said, adding that “the scale of the destruction inside the complex and the buildings around it is very large.”

An AFP journalist on the scene said several buildings inside the complex had been damaged, with some areas showing damage from fire. A doctor told AFP more than 20 bodies had been recovered and that some had been crushed by withdrawing vehicles.

Video footage circulating online showed heavily damaged and charred buildings, mounds of dirt that had been churned up by bulldozers and patients on stretchers in darkened corridors.

Local resident Yahia Abu Auf said there were still patients, medical workers and displaced people sheltering inside the medical compound though several patients had been taken to the nearby Ahli Hospital. He said army bulldozers had plowed over a makeshift cemetery in Shifa’s courtyard.

With hundreds of thousands of Gazans displaced by the war, hundreds had sought refuge at the Shifa complex prior to the operation. Israeli troops first raided Shifa in November but Hamas operatives had since returned.

The army on Sunday released footage it said showed a cache of weapons seized by the Nahal Brigade’s reconnaissance unit in Shifa Hospital’s maternity ward.

“No hospital in the world looks like this. This is what a house of terrorists looks like,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a Sunday news conference.

The weapons, including mortars, explosive devices, sniper rifles, assault rifles, handguns, and other military equipment, were found hidden inside patient pillows and beds, and in the drop ceilings and walls of the building, according to the IDF.

Some 350 patients and medical staff at Shifa Hospital were evacuated by the IDF to a “designated compound” in another part of the complex, where the military provided them with humanitarian aid and supplies.

An additional 6,200 civilians sheltering at the medical center were evacuated from the premises, the IDF said.

As the IDF withdrew from Shifa, fighting continued in other parts of Gaza.

In central Gaza, the IDF said an attack helicopter carried out a strike on two buildings used by Hamas, one of which was booby-trapped and had been used to observe Israeli troops.

In other airstrikes in Gaza, the IDF said it killed terror operatives who were an “immediate threat” to ground troops, including a sniper. In southern Gaza’s Khan Younis, the IDF said troops of the Commando Brigade and Givati Brigade were continuing to battle Hamas in the al-Amal neighborhood. Amid the operation in al-Amal, troops killed numerous gunmen in close-quarters combat, detained terror suspects, and located weapons over the past day, the IDF said.

In another area of Khan Younis, the IDF said the 7th Armored Brigade and Israeli Air Force struck several Hamas targets, including a truck driving toward the troops and another car with operatives inside, which were perceived as threats.

As fighting continued, the US continued with efforts to stop a promised Israeli incursion into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where more than 1.5 million displaced Palestinians are sheltering.

Israel launched its offensive after Hamas terrorists swept into Israel on October 7, killing some 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and taking 253 hostages.

Hamas says at least 32,845 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, a figure that cannot be independently verified and includes at least 13,000 Hamas terrorists Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 gunmen inside Israel on October 7. PJC

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

read more: