Some forced out at gunpoint as Israeli Forces order Al-Shifa Hospital evacuationtext_fields
Israeli forces have ordered the evacuation of Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest medical facility, amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict entering its seventh week. The hospital, which has become a focal point of the conflict, was reportedly given a one-hour ultimatum to clear the premises, with some individuals forced to leave at gunpoint.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) denied forcing anyone to leave, stating that they acceded to the hospital director's request to allow additional Gazans to evacuate via a secure route. However, reports from inside the hospital describe a chaotic scene as medical professionals, patients, and displaced individuals were instructed to move on foot towards the seafront.
Allegations have been made that Hamas operates a base underneath Al-Shifa, a claim denied by the militant group. The United Nations estimates that around 2,300 patients, staff, and displaced Palestinians were seeking shelter at the hospital before Israeli troops entered.
The Hamas health ministry in Gaza has reported dozens of deaths at Al-Shifa due to power cuts caused by fuel shortages amid intense combat. Despite Israeli calls for evacuation to the south, medical professionals argue that the patients cannot be safely moved.
The hospital director, Mohammed Abu Salmiya, confirmed that Israeli troops instructed him to ensure the evacuation of patients, wounded individuals, the displaced, and medical staff. As the one-hour deadline passed, forced evacuations reportedly began, with scenes outside the hospital described as "appalling."
The situation at Al-Shifa Hospital adds to the complexity of an already dire humanitarian crisis in the region, with international concerns growing over the impact of the conflict on civilian infrastructure and the well-being of those caught in the crossfire.