Israeli special forces enter the largest functioning hospital in Gaza

Israeli special forces enter the largest functioning hospital in Gaza


Israeli special forces raided Gaza's Nasser Hospital, the largest functioning hospital in the enclave, on Thursday after laying siege to the facility for days.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it arrested a number of suspects in the raid. The raid was based on information, some of which came from released hostages.

Israel said it believed the bodies of dead hostages were being held at the hospital. Hamas denied the claims and said it had “no business” at Nasser Hospital.

The news came after doctors and medical officials in the southern Gaza Strip said Israeli snipers shot a number of people as they tried to escape Nasser Hospital. An eyewitness to the shootings, a trauma surgeon at the hospital, said at least two people were killed by snipers on Tuesday and others were shot and injured.

Israeli Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari commented on the raid on Thursday as follows: “Hamas terrorists are probably currently hiding behind injured civilians in Nasser Hospital.” Israeli forces “arrested a number of suspects” in the operation, the IDF said on Thursday in a statement with.

A former hostage told CNN last month that she was being held at Nasser Hospital – a claim that CNN could not independently verify and that Hamas denied.

Dr. Ashraf Al-Qidra, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said earlier: “The Israeli occupation storms the Nasser Medical Complex and turns it into a military barracks after demolishing the southern wall and entering from there.”

Israeli military bulldozers are digging up mass graves dug within the complex walls, Dr. Al Qidra.

Mohammed Salem/Portal

Palestinian patients arrive in Rafah on Thursday after being evacuated from Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis as Israeli forces entered the last functioning medical facility in Gaza.

It comes a day after hundreds of civilians were forced by Israeli forces to leave the hospital that was serving as their shelter. Videos taken on Tuesday showed columns of smoke at the edge of the hospital, an Israeli bulldozer destroying a hospital perimeter wall and an armored vehicle entering the hospital grounds. The sound of gunfire can be heard everywhere.

At least eight people trying to escape along the route came under fire on Tuesday, the hospital's trauma surgeon, who did not want to be named for security reasons, told CNN.

According to the surgeon, among the injured was a 16-year-old boy who was shot with four bullets at the hospital gate.

In a series of voice notes, the surgeon said medical teams at the hospital had been under heavy bombardment for at least three days. His statement was shared with CNN by his colleague.

“The tanks and the snipers are surrounding the hospital from all directions,” the surgeon said in a voice message early Wednesday. “They threatened to bomb the hospital within half an hour.”

Israel has repeatedly said its forces do not target civilians.

In a video seen by CNN, men, women and small children with backpacks frantically gather their belongings before evacuating the hospital. The noise of Israeli drones overhead can also be heard.

“They bombed a warehouse at the hospital…most of the medical supplies were burned,” the surgeon said.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza also said Israeli snipers killed civilians on Tuesday and another seven people were shot dead by Israeli snipers on Monday.

According to the Ministry of Health in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, more than 1,500 displaced people are still in the facility, including at least 273 patients and 190 medical staff. There are three children in the kindergarten, it goes on to say.

At the start of the war, the Israeli military declared Khan Younis a safer zone and urged residents of the northern Gaza Strip to seek shelter there. But as the IDF pushed its ground offensive south, the city became its next focus.

The IDF says Khan Younis is a Hamas stronghold and that a network of tunnels under civilian buildings in the city was likely where Hamas planned the Oct. 7 attacks that killed more than 1,200 people – the deadliest Attacks of this kind in Israel's history.

The destruction of the city of Khan Younis due to the Israeli military campaign is widespread, with many buildings completely destroyed and rubble rolled away, CNN witnessed.

In the west of the city, where the hospital is located, the Israeli military said it targeted Hamas outposts, infrastructure and command and control centers.

Hamas has denied hiding in hospitals and other civilian facilities, and CNN cannot independently verify any of these claims.

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“Apocalyptic landscape”

According to Doctors Without Borders, also known as Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the hospital's vital medical supplies had collapsed by the end of January, leaving staff with “very low supplies, insufficient to deal with mass casualties.”

At the end of January, doctors at the hospital described a “completely catastrophic situation” as the hospital was “completely besieged by Israeli forces.”

A video filmed at the hospital on Tuesday shows columns of smoke at the edge of the hospital, an Israeli bulldozer destroying a hospital perimeter wall and an armored vehicle entering the hospital grounds. The sound of gunfire can be heard everywhere.

Electric generators will be switched off within 72 hours if the Israeli bombardment continues, Dr. Al-Qidra, the spokesman for the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, said on Wednesday.

“The situation at the Nasser Medical Complex is catastrophic and very worrying and there is panic among those present,” he said. “Sewage floods the emergency room.”

Given the widespread destruction in northern Gaza and the current offensive in the southern part of the besieged enclave, Doctors Without Borders said many people had no safe place to flee.

“People ask us, 'Where is it safe?' “Where should we go?” but there is no answer to that and it really leads to a feeling of desperation,” said Lisa Macheiner, MSF project coordinator in Gaza.

Doctors Without Borders condemned the Israeli military's order to evacuate patients, staff and displaced people from Nasser Hospital, saying “people have been forced into an impossible situation.”

“Stay in Nasser Hospital against Israeli military orders and become a potential target, or leave the site in an apocalyptic landscape where bombings and evacuation orders are part of daily life,” Macheiner said.

“Hospitals should be viewed as safe places and not evacuated in the first place.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.