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Palestinians react as they inspect damages at Al Shifa Hospital after Israeli forces withdrew from the Hospital and the area around it following a two-week operation, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Gaza City April 1, 2024.

REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas

Israel’s Shifa raid ends. Is Rafah next?

The Israeli military on Monday confirmed its withdrawal from Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest health facility, concluding a raid that lasted roughly two weeks and sparked criticism from the WHO and international rights groups.

Israel says the raid, which reportedly left the hospital in ruins, destroyed a terrorist base and may have garnered intel that could help locate hostages held by Hamas since Oct. 7, 2023. Israel’s war tactics are increasingly being scrutinized globally, including by the US – the Jewish State’s top ally.

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An opening to a tunnel that, according to Israel's military, was used by Palestinian militants under Al Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip as seen in this screen grab taken from a handout video released by the Israel Defense Forces on November 19, 2023

Israel Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS

The controversy around, and under, Al Shifa Hospital

It’s been a week since Israeli forces seized control of Al Shifa Hospital, the largest medical facility in the Gaza Strip, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of patients and staff.

The IDF has said the complex sits atop a vast network of tunnels and bunkers – some of them built by Israel when it still occupied Gaza in the 1980s – which Hamas uses as an underground command center. Prior to raiding the hospital, the Israelis released a 3D rendering of what they think is underneath it.

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Premature newborns receive treatment after being transferred from Al-Shifa Hospital to Al-Emarati Hospital in Rafah.

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28: On Monday, 28 critically ill premature babies previously evacuated from Al Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip were transferred to Egypt for ongoing care. Israeli forces seized control of Al Shifa last week, alleging – thus far without independently verified evidence – that there was a vast Hamas command center located beneath the hospital. As of late Monday, Israeli forces had surrounded another large hospital in Northern Gaza, forcing the evacuation of at least 200 patients, according to the Gaza health ministry.
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