Why Israeli forces are raiding Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital – again

 Last week, Israeli forces launched another military operation on Gaza's largest hospital, Al-Shifa Hospital, putting the sprawling medical facilities in the north of the Strip back in the spotlight.

This operation, now in its eleventh day, is the second of its kind at the hospital, which is located in the northern western part of Gaza City. The IDF first raided Al-Shifa Hospital in November, an operation in which the facility's main building was severely damaged and effectively rendered non-functional.


The raid also comes despite the IDF's claim in January that it had completed the dismantling of the Hamas leadership structure in northern Gaza.


While the Israeli military said civilians, patients and medical equipment were evacuated during the operation, Palestinians in and around Shifa reported civilian casualties and arrests, as well as widespread destruction in the compound.


Israel, Hamas and civilians also reported heavy fighting around the hospital, and U.N. officials said hospitals should not be battlefields.


Here's what we know: Israeli forces began their latest operation there on March 18, saying they were carrying out "precise operational activities against terrorists" based in Shifa; a statement that was also echoed in the November raid.


The IDF had returned in large numbers to the recovery despite Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant's announcement in January that the most intense phase of operations in northern Gaza had been completed.


Speaking to his troops in a video released by the Defense Ministry, Gallant on March 26 praised the operation, saying that the hospital had been reached "in the blink of an eye" and that Hamas activists were still hiding in the hospital "thinking about his future: surrender or death."

The Israeli military said this month that over the course of its 11-day operation, it arrested hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists in and around the hospital, killing dozens more.


In the Shifa area, the Israeli military said in an update on Wednesday that “about 200 terrorists have been eliminated in the hospital area since the start of the activity.” The IDF also claimed that "terrorists opened fire on IDF forces from inside and outside the emergency room building of Al-Shifa Hospital."

Israel has claimed for years that Hamas fighters take shelter in mosques, hospitals and other civilian locations to avoid Israeli attacks. Hamas has repeatedly denied these accusations.

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