IDF troops withdraw from Gaza's largest hospital after two week raid

The Israeli withdrawal has left the hospital a shadow of its former self, ITV News Correspondent Sam Holder reports

The Israeli military withdrew from Gaza’s largest hospital on Monday after a two-week raid, leaving behind several bodies and a vast swath of destruction, according to Palestinian residents.

The military said it killed scores of Hamas and other militants, including senior operatives, and that it seized weapons and valuable intelligence during the raid.

But it came at a time of mounting frustration in Israel, with tens of thousands protesting against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday and demanding he do more to bring home dozens of hostages held in Gaza.

It was the largest anti-government demonstration since the start of the war.

The UN health agency said several patients died and dozens were put at risk as a result of the offensive, which brought even further destruction to a hospital that had already largely ceased to function.

Mohammed Mahdi, who was among hundreds of Palestinians who returned to the area, described a scene of “total destruction.” He said several buildings had been burned down and that he had counted six bodies in the area, including two in the hospital courtyard.

Video footage circulating online showed heavily damaged and charred buildings, mounds of dirt that had been churned up by bulldozers and patients on stretchers in darkened corridors.

Another resident, Yahia Abu Auf, said there were still patients, medical workers and displaced people sheltering inside the medical compound after several patients had been taken to the nearby Ahli Hospital. He said army bulldozers had ploughed over a makeshift cemetery in al-Shifa's courtyard.

“The situation is indescribable,” he said. “The occupation destroyed all sense of life here.”

Israel has accused Hamas of using hospitals for military purposes and has raided several medical facilities. It says it launched the raid on al-Shifa after Hamas and other militants had regrouped there.

Health officials in Gaza deny those allegations.

At least 21 patients have died since the raid began, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus posted late Sunday on X, formerly Twitter.

He said over a hundred patients were still inside the compound, including four children and 28 critical patients. He also said there were no diapers, urine bags or water to clean wounds, and that many patients suffered from infected wounds and dehydration. The military had previously raided al-Shifa, Gaza's largest hospital, in November, after saying Hamas maintained an elaborate command and control centre inside and beneath the compound.

The war began on October 7, when Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 250 people hostage.

Israel responded with an air, land and sea offensive that has killed at least 32,782 Palestinians, according to Gaza's Health Ministry.

But in recent weeks frustration with the Israeli government has hit new heights, particularly over the hostages seized by Hamas.

Protesters are growing increasingly frustrated with the government's handling of the war. Credit: PA

Many families of hostages had refrained from publicly denouncing Netanyahu to avoid antagonising the leadership and making the hostages’ plight a political issue.

But as their anger grows, some now want to change course — and they played a major role in Sunday’s anti-government protest.

The anti-government protests that rocked Netanyahu's government before the war have returned after a brief show of national unity.

Protesters blame Netanyahu for the failures of October 7 and say the deep political divisions over his attempted judicial overhaul last year weakened Israel ahead of the attack.

Netanyahu is also facing a litany of corruption charges which are slowly making their way through the courts, and critics say his decisions appear to be focused on political survival over the national interest.

Opinion polls show Netanyahu and his coalition trailing far behind their rivals if elections were held today.

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