Israeli army forces staff, patients to evacuate Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital at gunpoint
GAZA: (Web Desk) Israeli forces ordered doctors, patients, and displaced people at Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital to evacuate the medical compound, forcing some to leave by gunpoint, according to a report by Al Jazeera.
Doctors said the facility, which has been under siege by Israeli troops for several days, was now largely deserted hours after soldiers ordered people to leave on Saturday.
But in a post on X, the Israeli army spokesperson denied giving any order, saying the “IDF responded to the request of the director of Shifa Hospital to allow Gazan citizens who were sheltering in the hospital and who wish to evacuate from Shifa Hospital towards the humanitarian crossing in the Gaza Strip via a secure axis”.
Mohammed Zaqout, the director-general of hospitals in Gaza, reiterated to Al Jazeera: “I categorically deny these false allegations [from the Israeli army] … I am telling you we were forced to leave by gunpoint.”
More than 7,000 people, including patients in critical condition and newborn babies fighting for their lives, were sheltered inside al-Shifa.
A doctor in the hospital told Al Jazeera that at around 9am local time (7:00 GMT), they received the order from the Israelis to leave in “one hour”, but that it was “impossible” to evacuate everyone as they did not have ambulances or transportation means to transfer patients.
The situation caused “a great state of panic and fear” in the hospital, Al Jazeera’s Youmna ElSayed said, reporting from Khan Younis in southern Gaza.
Many people left on foot. But “patients who cannot move, amputees, and those with critical conditions” were forced to remain behind with a handful of medical staff, Mohammed Abu Salmiya, the director of the al-Shifa Hospital, told Al Jazeera. “The situation is really dire,” he said, adding that the facility was largely deserted.
Those in al-Shifa had included at least 300 patients, many of them in critical condition, as well as thousands of displaced families.
It also included “at least 35 premature babies who already for eight days now have been out of their incubators because of the lack of oxygen and the lack of electricity”, ElSayed said. There were 39 babies who had been left without incubators; four died late on Friday and five are severely ill now, Al Jazeera’s correspondent added.