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Israeli military warns Gazans to evacuate Al-Shifa Hospital as raid continues


(TEL-AVIV, Israel) — Displaced Gazans at Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza were reportedly being told to evacuate immediately Thursday, as Israel’s raid on the hospital continues into a fourth day amid the ongoing war with Hamas.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched an operation at Al-Shifa on Monday, claiming “senior Hamas terrorists” were using the hospital, located in Gaza City and the largest in the strip, to “conduct and promote terrorist activity.”

People near the area are now purportedly being told to leave as reports emerge of some buildings in the vicinity of the complex being detonated.

At least 3,000 Gazans remain trapped at Al-Shifa with limited food and water due to the siege, according to hospital officials.

The IDF said it continues to conduct “precise operational activity in the hospital.” Israeli officials have said more than 140 Hamas terrorists have been killed and more than 500 suspected militants have been arrested throughout the course of the operation.

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Thursday the operation at Al-Shifa would go on “for some days.” They have captured several members of the Islamic Jihad chain of command and several senior Hamas officials, according to Hagari.

Israel has said it has not conducted targeted attacks against hospitals and claims Hamas misuses hospitals — operating inside and underneath them in tunnels and using them as command centers, as well as to store weapons. The IDF has released videos it claims are evidence of Hamas operations. Hamas denies the accusations.

The IDF has said it is only targeting Hamas and other militants in Gaza and alleges that Hamas deliberately shelters behind civilians, which the group denies.

The IDF claimed many weapons and intelligence documents from Hamas have been uncovered during searches in the hospital, as well as about $3 million in U.S. currency plus Jordanian dinars that were allegedly “earmarked for terrorism.” ABC News has not independently verified the IDF’s claims.

Al-Shifa Hospital officials said that among those who were arrested were journalists and medical workers. The majority of those arrested were beaten and forced to strip, the officials added.

“We appeal to all international institutions to stop these crimes against the sick, wounded and medical staff inside the hospital,” the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

The IDF claimed Thursday it had evacuated 220 patients and equipment from the emergency room to a different building, as fighting was ongoing after some terrorists barricaded themselves near the emergency room.

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During the operation, the IDF said about 3,700 Gazans have passed through an Israeli checkpoint near the hospital and moved south, where the majority of Gazans currently are.

This is not the first time Israeli forces have raided the Al-Shifa medical complex during the war with Hamas. An operation also occurred in November, with IDF soldiers claiming they found weapons and a tunnel complex at the hospital.

Prior to the current raid, international organizations had said Al-Shifa was in a “dire” situation. The World Health Organization (WHO) said medical staff have gone periods without electricity or water and have been forced to move babies from neonatal intensive incubators after fuel ran out.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday the organization has lost contact with hospital personnel since the raid began, and is seeking information on patients’ conditions.

“Accessing Al-Shifa is now impossible, and there are reports of health workers being arrested and detained,” he said in a statement. “A planned mission to Al-Shifa today had to be canceled due to lack of security. The ongoing situation could impact the hospital’s ability to function, even minimally, and deprive people of critical, lifesaving care.

“We repeat once again: Hospitals are not battlegrounds. They must be protected in line with international humanitarian law,” he added.

The raid comes as the IDF considers launching an operation in Rafah, a city located in southern Gaza near the border crossing with Egypt where about 1.4 million Palestinians have been displaced. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. has submitted a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council calling for “an immediate cease-fire tied to the release of hostages.”

Hamas carried out an unprecedented incursion from Gaza into southern Israel by air, land and sea on Oct. 7, 2023, killing more than 1,200 people and taking 253 others hostage, according to Israeli authorities. More than 31,400 Palestinians have been killed and more than 72,000 others have been injured in Gaza since Oct. 7, amid Israel’s ongoing ground operations and aerial bombardment of the strip, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

ABC News’ Emma Ogao and Sami Zayara contributed to this report.

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