Since Israel’s ground forces entered Gaza 19 days ago, the future of the largest hospital on the territory has been closely linked to the outcome of Israel’s war.
On Wednesday morning, Israeli forces invaded Al-Shifa Hospital, examining its rooms and corridors for proof to back up Israel’s claim that the expansive medical facility also serves as a covert military command centre. According to Palestinians at the hospital and Israeli officials, they searched for weapons throughout the day and questioned those they found inside.
Both sides viewed the early-morning attack as a turning point in the war that had the power to influence its direction and duration.
Israel has framed the acquisition of Al-Shifa, a vast complex in Gaza City, as a crucial indicator of its progress and claims it hides an underground military base. Furthermore, according to the Israelis, Hamas’s use of the hospital demonstrates how it uses people as human shields for self-defense.
The administration of the hospital as well as Hamas have refuted the Israeli claims. They claim that Al-Shifa serves only as a hospital and a haven for thousands of individuals who have been displaced by Israel’s attacks on Gaza. The Israeli military’s attention to a large hospital, even though these kinds of establishments are usually closed during hostilities, is seen by Palestinians as evidence of their disdain for Palestinian lives.
What Israel discovers— or doesn’t discover— at the hospital could have an impact on how the world views the assault and the ongoing discussions regarding the release of the more than 200 Hamas hostages.
After the hospital raid lasted for eighteen hours, the Israeli military published images and videos that they said supported their claims. Along with a statement claiming to have identified a military command centre in the hospital’s M.R.I. section, it released pictures of 13 guns that its soldiers had allegedly located inside the facility.
The New York Times was unable to evaluate the claim of the command center’s existence or confirm the origin of the weaponry and equipment in the pictures. There were no reports of confrontations with Hamas gunmen at the location, with the exception of an initial shootout outside the hospital during the operation.
On October 7, Israeli sources said that Hamas launched a terrorist attack on Israel that resulted in the deaths of about 1,200 people and the capture of about 240 more. This marked the start of the war. Over 11,000 people have died in Gaza as a result of Israel’s air, sea, and land onslaught in the 40 days that have passed, including over 4,600 children, according to Gaza health officials.
Israel is attempting to remove Hamas from office and take back control of a region it had from 1967 to 2005. Israel and Egypt have kept a strict siege on Gaza since 2007, when Hamas fully seized over the small coastal territory.