Israel says 170 Gaza gunmen killed in hospital raid

By Thomson Reuters Mar 23, 2024 | 3:15 AM

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli forces fighting in Gaza have killed more than 170 gunmen during their days-long raid at the Palestinian enclave’s main hospital, the military said on Saturday.

Israeli troops entered Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City in the early hours of Monday morning and have been combing through the sprawling complex, which the military says is connected to a tunnel network used as a base for Hamas and other Palestinian fighters.

“Thus far, the forces eliminated more than 170 terrorists in the area of the hospital, questioned over 800 suspects, and located numerous weapons and terror infrastructure,” the military said.

Al Shifa, the Gaza Strip’s biggest hospital before the war, is now one of the few healthcare facilities even partially operational in the north of the territory, and had also been housing displaced civilians.

More than 350 Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants have so far been detained at the hospital, the largest number captured at the same time since the war began in October, the military said on Thursday.

Hamas and medical staff deny that the hospital is used for military purposes or to shelter fighters.

In recent days, Hamas spokespeople have said that the dead announced in previous Israeli statements were not fighters but patients and displaced people and have accused Israel of war crimes.

The Israeli military, which has lost two soldiers in combat at the hospital, says it is preventing harm to civilians, patients and medical staff there.

Reuters has been unable to access the hospital and verify either account.

Israel faced heavy criticism last November when troops first raided the hospital. The troops uncovered tunnels there, which they said had been used as command and control centres by Hamas.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Frances Kerry)