Middle East

Israeli special forces raid largest functioning hospital in Gaza

By: Kareem Khadder, Lauren Izso, Sana Noor Haq and Mick Krever, CNN

Israeli special forces raided Nasser Hospital in Gaza, the largest functioning hospital in the enclave, after laying siege to the facility for days.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it had detained a number of suspects in Thursday’s raid, which it said was led by intelligence gathered in part from released hostages.

Israel said it believed the bodies of dead hostages were being held inside the hospital. Hamas denied the claims, saying the group had “no business” at the hospital.

Israeli forces shelled the hospital early Thursday, killing and injuring an “undetermined number of people,” according to Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Since the attack, one of their colleagues remains unaccounted for.

MSF staff were forced to flee the hospital through a checkpoint set up by the Israeli military, the agency said, adding that one employee “was detained” there.

The news came after doctors and medical officials in southern Gaza said Israeli snipers had shot dead a number of people as they tried to flee the Nasser hospital. An eyewitness to the shootings, who is a trauma surgeon at the hospital, said at least two people were killed by snipers on Tuesday, with more shot and injured.

Commenting on Thursday’s raid, Israeli Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said, “Hamas terrorists are likely hiding behind injured civilians inside Nasser hospital right now.” One former hostage told CNN last month that she was held at Nasser Hospital – a claim CNN could not independently verify, and which Hamas denied.

Israeli military bulldozers dug up the mass graves inside the complex walls, Dr. Al-Qidra, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, said earlier. On Thursday, the forces “stormed the maternity building and conducted a search operation inside,” he added.

CNN has asked the IDF for its response to those allegations on Thursday. The IDF has not so far responded to any allegations levied by the Ministry.

Later, Israeli forces forced hospital management staff to house nearly 200 patients, 95 medical workers, 11 of their families, and 165 companions and displaced people “under harsh and terrifying conditions without food, without infant formula, and with severe water shortages,” according to Dr. Al-Qidra.

Palestinian patients arrive in Rafah after they were evacuated from Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, on Thursday, as Israeli forces entered the last remaining functioning medical facility in Gaza.

Displaced patients and medical staff ‘are afraid’

The raid comes after hundreds of civilians were forced by Israeli forces to leave the hospital, which they had been using as a shelter. Video filmed on Tuesday showed columns of smoke at its perimeter, an Israeli bulldozer destroying a hospital perimeter wall, and an armored vehicle entering the hospital grounds. The sound of gunfire can be heard throughout.

At least eight people trying to escape along the route came under gunfire on Tuesday, the trauma surgeon at the hospital, who asked not to be named for security reasons, told CNN. Among those injured, according to the surgeon, was a 16-year-old boy shot with four bullets at the hospital gate.

In a series of voice notes, the surgeon said medical teams at the hospital have been under intense bombardment for at least three days. His testimony was shared with CNN by his colleague.

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