8:48 am ET, November 15, 2023

Here’s what we know so far about Israel’s attack on Al-Shifa hospital

From CNN’s Sophie Tanno

Israel said its military A “Target” initiates action Inside Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, early Wednesday against Hamas, which the terror group accused of using the medical center as a command base.

There are conditions in the hospital Deteriorated rapidly In recent days, amid intense fighting, doctors have warned of an even more “catastrophic” situation for patients, staff and displaced people.

Here’s what we know so far:

Testing: The Israel Defense Forces said it had launched a “precise and targeted operation” against Hamas in al-Shifa, and the fighting was ongoing.

Israeli tanks and military vehicles “were in the courtyard of al-Shifa hospital,” Qader al-Zanoun, a reporter for the Palestinian news agency Wafa, told CNN.

A doctor inside al-Shifa told CNN he was alerted 30 minutes before the Israeli operation began.

“We have been asked to stay away from windows and balconies. We are hearing armored vehicles, which are very close to the entrance to the compound,” said Dr. Khaled Abu Samra.

The Israeli army entered the ground floor and basement of the surgery building in the Al Shifa hospital complex, said Mohammed Jagout, director general of Gaza Hospitals.

Speaking to Al Jazeera Arabic, Zaqout accused IDF medical teams of interrogating patients and their companions.

“Some of the guards were forced to take off their clothes,” Zaqout, who is not at the hospital but told doctors in al-Shifa.

Zaqout said Israeli tanks had begun to leave the compound.

A senior Israeli security official told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that they had no information that those at the hospital had been interrogated, although the official acknowledged during the briefing that the operation was ongoing.

Why is Israel doing this? Israel accuses Hamas of using Al-Shifa Hospital as a command and control base.

Hospitals are protected during times of war Under international humanitarian law, but Israel said in a statement that Hamas’ “continued military use of the Shifa hospital affects its protected status”.

On Tuesday, US intelligence cited a Hamas hospital as having a command post, which appears to support Israel’s assertion.

The Pentagon said the US has newly declassified intelligence to show that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad al-Shifa are using the hospitals as a way to “cover and support their military operations and hold hostages”.

CNN cannot independently verify US or Israeli claims.

The IDF says no hostages have yet been found in al-Shifa. One of Israel’s objectives in the conflict was to rescue more than 200 people held captive by Hamas.

Here’s what Palestinian officials say: Palestinian Health Minister Dr Mai al-Qaila said the Israeli military attack represented “a new crime against humanity, medical staff and patients” and could have “catastrophic consequences” for patients and medical staff.

His health ministry is based in Ramallah and falls under the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA) — and is separate from the Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza.

Hamas’s statement blamed both Israel and the United States for the attack on the Israeli military hospital. By supporting what it called Israel’s “false narrative” that Hamas uses al-Shifa as a command and control base, it said the US had given Israel “a green light to carry out more massacres against civilians”.

Humanitarian Situation: Doctors and journalists have described the appalling conditions inside Al-Shifa, including desperate attempts to keep premature babies alive and procedures limited to candlelight.

Journalist Al Za’anoun said people in the hospital “are starving, there is no food or water to drink, we don’t get tap water for an hour a day.”

He said dozens of corpses were to be buried in a mass grave in the courtyard of the hospital premises as relatives could not leave to bury their loved ones.

“The scene was terrible, the smell of the dead was unbearable, most of the bodies were women and children,” Al Zanoon told CNN.

Thousands of Palestinians are believed to be taking refuge in and around Al-Shifa to escape Israeli air and ground attacks.

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