Over 170 gunmen killed, 800 suspects captured in ongoing Shifa Hospital raid — IDF

Troops locate terror infrastructure, weapons at medical center; WHO chair says facility has become inaccessible; IAF strikes 35 sites across Strip over past day

IDF troops operate in the area of Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, in a handout image published March 23, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops operate in the area of Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, in a handout image published March 23, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces said Saturday it had killed more than 170 gunmen and captured 800 terror suspects during its ongoing operation against Hamas at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital.

In the raid, which began early Monday and is being led by the Navy’s Shayetet 13 commando unit and the 401st Armored Brigade, the IDF said troops located infrastructure belonging to terror groups and caches of weapons.

According to World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the medical site has become inaccessible due to the fighting.

On social media, he shared a harrowing account from a doctor there, who said two patients on life support had died from lack of electricity, while others in critical condition were lying on the floor.

“These conditions are utterly inhumane,” Tedros wrote. “We call for an immediate end to the siege.”

International law stipulates that while a medical facility is a protected site, it loses that status if it is used for military activity, as Israel alleges Hamas has done on a large scale.

Meanwhile, the IDF said that over the past day, the Israeli Air Force struck some 35 sites across the Gaza Strip, including command rooms and other infrastructure belonging to terror groups.

In central Gaza, the IDF said troops of the Nahal Brigade killed some 15 terror operatives during “intense fighting.”

In southern Gaza’s al-Qarara, the IDF said the 7th Armored Brigade directed airstrikes on two operatives and a building used by Hamas amid its ongoing operations in the area close to Khan Younis.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry reported in a preliminary tally early Saturday morning that another 67 people had been killed overnight, including 10 in a strike on a home north of Gaza City. The figures cannot be independently verified.

At a funeral for the Barbakh family in the southern city of Khan Younis on Friday, relatives lamented seemingly endless losses.

“At the beginning of the war, I lost my nephew, and now my sister, her husband and her children. Almost the entire family has perished,” said Turkiya Barbakh.

“How long are we supposed to endure this?”

A young Palestinian salvages a blanket from the rubble of a flat hit by Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 22, 2024. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

On Saturday, UN chief Antonio Guterres arrived in Egypt, where he plans to meet with aid workers on the Egyptian side of Rafah, just across the border from the Gazan city where around 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering.

The question of a ground offensive on the city has become a matter of dispute between Israel and Washington.

“We have no way to defeat Hamas without getting into Rafah and eliminating the battalions that are left there,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday.

Netanyahu has said the IDF will evacuate the civilians to areas north of Rafah before beginning the operation and has approved the military’s plans for the offensive.

But US Secretary of State Antony Blinken argued an invasion of Rafah was “not the way to achieve” that aim, and warned starkly that it would risk more civilian fatalities, undermine aid assistance, risk greater isolation for Israel and endanger its security and international standing.

US officials say the number of aid deliveries via land needs to increase fast and that aid needs to be sustained over a long period. Israel says it is not restricting aid, and has blamed the deteriorating humanitarian situation on aid agencies’ failure to distribute supplies.

“We have the same goals as Israel: the defeat of Hamas,” the top American diplomat wrote on X, after meeting with Netanyahu on Friday. “Next week I will meet again with Israeli officials in Washington to discuss a different way we can achieve this objective.”

“Hard disagree,” wrote Democratic Senator John Fetterman on X, in response to Blinken’s charge that Israel would become isolated. “Israel shouldn’t face isolation when Hamas terrorists are still present and hiding behind civilians.

“Hamas owns this humanitarian catastrophe and must surrender, release the hostages NOW, or be eliminated,” added Fetterman, who has been a vocal supporter of Israel since the war erupted.

Democratic Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) reacts to a question from members of the media on March 22, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Nathan Howard / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Meanwhile, Mossad chief David Barnea headed to Qatar for negotiations with CIA chief William Burns and Qatari and Egyptian officials on Friday.

The mediators are aiming to secure the release of Israeli hostages still held by terrorists in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody and the delivery of more relief supplies.

The war in Gaza erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacres, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages, mostly civilians.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel launched a wide-scale military campaign in Gaza, aiming to destroy the terror group and return the hostages. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says over 32,000 have been killed. The unverified figure does not differentiate between combatants and civilians and is believed to include Palestinians killed by terror groups’ rocket misfires and at least 13,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Over half of the hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza, after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November. Several others were released in other circumstances and the bodies of some have also been recovered. The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 33 of those still held by Hamas, citing intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza

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