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IOF storms Al-Shifa Hospital, searches its basement, amid gunfire

GAZA,(Palestine Foundation Information Center)The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed at dawn Wednesday Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City after besieging it, bombing its premises for days and killing patients and displaced civilians inside and outside it.

Head of the hospital’s burns unit Ahmed Mukhalalati told the Al-Jazeera satellite channel that Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered the campus of the medical complex.

Eyewitnesses inside the hospital also reported that Israeli forces and their armored vehicles stormed the western area of the medical complex and blew up doors and walls of the departments there.

The eyewitnesses added that dozens of Israeli soldiers broke into the emergency department building of the hospital, amid the presence of several tanks and armored vehicles in the main courtyard of the facility.

Mohamed Zaqqout, director general of the Gaza hospitals, told Al Jazeera that he talked over the phone at dawn (5:30 a.m.) with the deputy health minister, who is with the patients and medical crews at Al-Shifa Hospital, after Israeli forces stormed the facility, especially the surgical and emergency department.

Zaqqout said that he learned that the Israeli forces embarked on carrying our searches in the hospital’s basement where there are several displaced civilians.

He accused the Israeli occupation army of making lies and fabrications about Al-Shifa Medical Complex and the rest of the Gaza hospitals, calling for forming an international commission to visit the hospital and expose the Israeli false claims about it.

“The occupation army thought that the entry of its soldiers into the Shifa Complex would be a victory for it, but it did not find any evidence about the presence of resistance fighters inside it,” he said.

He pointed out that the health ministry agreed three days ago on a proposal calling for evacuating the patients and displaced civilians to hospitals and a school in the south of Gaza aboard Egyptian ambulances and through any other means, but this proposal was not responded to.

He affirmed that the Israeli army opened fire at anyone who left the hospital through the passage that it had claimed to be “safe” for those who wanted to leave.

Meanwhile, the health ministry in Gaza expressed its fears that the patients, displaced civilians and medical staff (about 9,000 people) at the hospital could be exposed to a massacre at the hands of Israeli soldiers.

Eyewitnesses reported hearing sounds of gunfire in the hospital’s courtyard.

Spokesman for the health ministry Ashraf al-Qudra denounced the Israeli occupation forces for opening fire inside Al-Shifa Medical Complex.

Qudra said that the Israeli shootings inside the medical facility were unjustified because there was not any form of resistance there. “What the Israeli occupation is doing at the hospital constitutes terrorism for doctors and patients.”

He affirmed that there are 1,500 medical personnel and about 7,000 patients and displaced civilians inside the medical complex.

For his part, director of the Government Media Office in Gaza Ismail al-Thawabta accused international organizations and the Red Cross of ignoring appeals for saving the wounded and patients at Al-Shifa Hospital.

“We hold the occupation, the international community and the US fully responsible for the safety of thousands of medical personnel, the wounded and displaced civilians, and we warn against any intent to commit a massacre at Al-Shifa Hospital,” Thawabta said.

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