Witnesses Describe Fear and Deprivation at Besieged Hospital in Gaza

Seven days after Israel’s military began a raid on the Gaza Strip’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, a picture of the sustained assault on the complex and its surrounding neighborhood emerges in fragments.

Residents nearby described a relentless daily soundtrack of gunshots, airstrikes and explosions. A surgeon spoke of doctors and patients corralled in the emergency ward while Israeli forces took control of the complex outside. A Palestinian teenager who spent four days sheltering in the hospital described the bodies she saw piled up outside the entrance.

“They had put the bodies on the side and thrown blankets over them,” said Alaa Abu Al-Kaaf, 18, who said she and her family were at Al-Shifa for days before leaving on Thursday. It was not immediately clear when or how the bodies were brought there.

Interviews with other witnesses in the hospital, residents in or near the facility and the Gazan authorities in recent days, as well as with others who have left the complex over the past week, described a situation of fear and deprivation, interrogations and detentions of Palestinian men by Israeli forces, and a persistent lack of food and water.

The assault on Al-Shifa, one of Israel’s longest hospital raids of the war in Gaza, began on Monday with tanks, bulldozers and airstrikes. The military said it was aimed at senior officials of Hamas, the armed group that led an attack into southern Israel on Oct. 7. Israel began a war on Gaza in response to that assault, with intense aerial bombardments and a ground offensive.

A woman in the Gaza Strip on Thursday after fleeing the Al-Shifa medical complex.Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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