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War on Gaza: Israeli forces destroy al-Shifa surgical building and order evacuation

Several homes near the hospital are blown up as displaced Palestinians inside the complex are ordered to evacuate
Smoke rises during an Israeli raid on al-Shifa hospital and the area around it, in Gaza City on 21 March 2024 (Reuters/Dawoud Abu Alkas)
Smoke rises during an Israeli raid on al-Shifa hospital and the area around it, in Gaza City on 21 March 2024 (Reuters/Dawoud Abu Alkas)
By Mohammed al-Hajjar in Gaza City, occupied Palestine and Nader Durgham in Beirut

Israeli forces have destroyed the main surgical building at Gaza City's al-Shifa Hospital, following four days of siege.

The building was blown up on Thursday, as Israel tightened its siege of Gaza's largest medical complex. Israeli forces ordered people trapped inside to evacuate before they target the entire facility, according to a Middle East Eye correspondent.

Thousands of Palestinians displaced from their homes by the ongoing war have been seeking refuge in the hospital.

Early on Thursday morning, Israeli forces warned them that the air force would soon begin bombing the complex, and that they should surrender themselves.

"We warned you, we warned you, we warned you," an Israeli soldier could be heard saying on a loudspeaker. "Do not make a mistake, do not try us."

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“If you leave the building [without the army's orders], the soldiers will shoot at you.”

A video from the hospital shows women and children scrambling to leave, awaiting the army's next orders, as the men were reportedly taken away by the soldiers.

Israeli forces have also blown up several homes in the vicinity of al-Shifa, according to Al Jazeera.

The Israeli army said it had killed 140 Palestinians since the start of its raid on the hospital in the early hours of Monday, including 50 over the past day, claiming they were all fighters. Hamas denies having any fighters inside the hospital.

Confrontations between the Israeli army and Hamas fighters were reported outside the hospital, with Hamas’s political chief, Ismail Haniyeh, accusing Israel of “sabotaging” ongoing truce talks in Qatar with its raid.

While accompanying the army in the hospital on Wednesday, Israeli army chief of staff, Herzi Halevi, admitted that the operation seeks to put pressure on the truce negotiations.

“In our operation here, we are serving two goals - hurting Hamas's leadership and putting pressure on the [hostage release] negotiations,” he said.

Journalists on the ground said they had lost all communications with medical staff inside the hospital.

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