Heavy fighting around Gaza’s largest hospital forces many to flee

A senior Israeli security official told NBC News that at least one strike at Al-Shifa Hospital was from a projectile launched by a militant group inside Gaza that had misfired. The official said that the Israel Defense Forces was conducting an “extensive review of its operational systems and intelligence” regarding the strike.  

The official did not identify which group launched the projectile or specify whether Israel knew who was responsible. The official also did not say whether the IDF had launched any strikes of its own on Al-Shifa or other hospitals Friday.

Hamas, without providing evidence, rejected allegations that projectiles from the enclave had fallen short and hit civilians.

NBC News was not immediately able to independently verify the origin of the strikes.

Follow live updates.

Another video geolocated to the courtyard of Al-Shifa and dated Thursday night captured the buzz and thump of what appeared to be an aerial munition approaching and then striking. A man is later seen lying on the concrete screaming as a pool of blood forms around him.

NBC News located the videos to Al-Shifa but has not been able to independently verify the footage.

‘Intense violence’ at Gaza’s main hospital as Israeli tanks and troops push forward
People check the bodies of victims killed in a blast in the vicinity of Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Hospital compound Friday. Khoder Al-Zaanoun / AFP via Getty Images

World Health Organization spokesperson Margaret Harris told reporters she did not have details of the incident at Al-Shifa but said “we do know they are coming under bombardment,” according to Reuters. She said she had heard from colleagues on the ground that there was “intense violence” there.

She said that at least 20 hospitals in Gaza were out of action amid the fighting in the enclave.

Al-Shifa is one of a growing number of medical facilities where doctors say Israeli forces have been getting close. Not only is it Gaza’s largest hospital, but also thousands of Palestinian civilians have flocked to the complex for safety amid the monthlong Israeli bombardment. The Israeli strikes and ground invasion come in retaliation for Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack that killed 1,400 people and led to some 240 being kidnapped, according to Israeli officials.

The IDF said it was unable to immediately respond to the footage or to reports of heavy bombardment of hospitals across northern Gaza.

During a briefing, IDF Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said the IDF “does not attack hospitals,” but added: “If we see Hamas terrorists shooting from hospitals, we do what needs to be done.”

The Israeli military has alleged that Hamas hides under hospitals in tunnels in Gaza, including Al-Shifa, which both Hamas and hospital workers have denied.

“Hamas has turned hospitals into fortified positions,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told NBC News’ Jose Diaz-Balart. “They have localized their command control capabilities. Their tunnel system. Their abilities to launch rockets. All of these are being done in and around and beneath hospitals. This is the challenge that we are facing.”

Asked to respond to the IDF’s claims, Albursh, the Al-Shifa surgeon said: “I am a doctor and this is my home.”

 “We don’t allow anybody other than doctors and health community to enter,” he said. Albursh said he would leave if he were aware of any Hamas militants at the hospital.

Earlier Friday, Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Health Ministry, said in a statement that there had been multiple casualties at the hospital.

Palestinian officials have also accused Israel of launching strikes near a number of hospitals in northern Gaza overnight and into Friday.

“The occupation is present in the vicinity of the hospitals square in central Gaza and is demanding its evacuation,” the Hamas-run government media office told NBC News.

Dr. Mustafa Al-Kahlot, director of the Al-Rantisi and the Al-Nasr hospitals for children, said that at least one child had been killed in strikes while others were trapped.

Speaking from the Al-Nasr Hospital, he said: “We were bombed twice. The first was at the hospital gate and the second was directly on the departments.”

In a video shared by the Health Ministry, a little girl can be seen sitting with a breathing tube, while behind her a crowd of people, including children, sit huddled in a hallway.

Multiple tanks could also be seen near Rantisi Specialist Hospital in videos posted on social media and geolocated by NBC News.

In the videos, two tanks can be seen stationed in destroyed alleys, indicating the reported advancement of Israeli troops deep into Gaza City.

Witnesses told an NBC News crew that military vehicles had been seen about a half-mile away from the Al-Shifa medical complex.

Palestinians flee Gaza City
Palestinians families fleeing Gaza City and other parts of northern Gaza toward the southern areas walk along a road Friday.Mahmud Hams / AFP – Getty Images

Meanwhile, at Al-Quds Hospital, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said there were “intense clashes and occupation snipers” firing on the facility, “causing injuries among the displaced people.”

It comes as tens of thousands of people have fled northern Gaza to the south in recent days, according to the Israeli military, with photos, videos and satellite imagery showing masses of people making the trek on foot.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement that under international humanitarian law, health establishments, including hospitals, should not be attacked.

“The destruction affecting hospitals in Gaza is becoming unbearable and needs to stop,” said William Schomburg, head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Gaza. “The lives of thousands of civilians, patients and medical staff are at risk,” he said.

Chantal Da Silva reported from Tel Aviv; Josh Lederman reported from Haifa; Lawahez Jabari reported from Jerusalem; and Mithil Aggarwal reported from Hong Kong.


Leave a Comment