Palestinians describe bodies and ambulances crushed in Israel’s ongoing raid at Gaza’s main hospital

An aircraft airdrops humanitarian aid over the northern Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Sunday, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Palestinians who fled an ongoing Israeli raid of Gaza’s main hospital described mass arrests and forced marches past bodies in interviews on Sunday, while the United Nations said Israel is now blocking its main agency helping Palestinians from sending food aid to the enclave’s devastated north.

Israel’s military says it has killed more than 170 militants and detained about 480 suspects in the raid on Shifa Hospital that began Monday, calling it a blow to Hamas and other armed groups it says had regrouped there as the war nears the six-month mark.


The fighting highlights the resilience of Palestinian armed groups in a heavily destroyed part of Gaza where Israeli troops have been forced to return after a similar raid in the war’s earliest weeks.

Kareem Ayman Hathat, who lived in a five-story building about 100 meters from the hospital, said he huddled in the kitchen for days while explosions sometimes caused the building to shake.

Early Saturday, Israeli troops stormed the building and forced dozens of residents to leave. He said men were forced to strip to their underwear and four were detained. The rest were blindfolded and ordered to follow a tank south as blasts thundered around them.

“From time to time, the tank would fire a shell,” he told The Associated Press. “It was to terrorize us.”

Israeli jets on Sunday launched several strikes near Shifa Hospital, which largely stopped functioning following the November raid. After claiming that Hamas maintained an elaborate command center there, Israeli forces months ago exposed a single tunnel leading to a few underground rooms.

Hardly any aid has been delivered in recent weeks to northern Gaza and Gaza City, where Shifa is located. The isolated area suffered widespread devastation in the early days of Israel’s offensive launched after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that triggered the war.

As of Sunday, Israel has told the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees it will no longer approve agency food convoys to northern Gaza, UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said on social media.

“This is outrageous and makes it intentional to obstruct lifesaving assistance during a man-made famine,” he said. The agency, Gaza’s biggest humanitarian provider, is repeatedly accused by Israel of having links to Hamas. Israel’s government didn’t immediately respond.

Experts have said famine is imminent in northern Gaza, where more than 210,000 people suffer from hunger.

A day after standing near some of the estimated 7,000 aid trucks waiting to enter Gaza and calling the starvation a “moral outrage,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres urged an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, the release of hostages held in Gaza and Israel’s removal of “obstacles” to allow a flood of aid delivery.

“Looking at Gaza, it almost appears that the four horsemen of war, famine, conquest and death are galloping across it,” Guterres said in Egypt, adding that nothing justifies the collective punishment of Palestinians.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said that five wounded Palestinians trapped at Shifa Hospital died without food, water or medical services.

Jameel al-Ayoubi, among thousands sheltering at Shifa when the current raid began, said tanks and armored bulldozers plowed into the hospital courtyard, crushing ambulances and civilian vehicles. He saw tanks drive over at least four bodies of people killed in the raid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email