NewsThe 'zone of death'. Hospital evacuation in Gaza Strip

The 'zone of death'. Hospital evacuation in Gaza Strip

The al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip is referred to as the "death zone."
The al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip is referred to as the "death zone."
Images source: © Getty Images | AHMAD HASABALLAH
ed. RAM
9:44 AM EST, November 19, 2023

On Saturday, hundreds of patients, medical staff, and individuals displaced by the war between Israel and Hamas vacated the largest hospital in Gaza. During the evacuation process, Israeli forces conducted searches and facial scans on the departing men, resulting in the detention of some, according to an AP report on Sunday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Saturday that it has carried out a mission to the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, a site under an Israeli army target. The WHO is now working on an evacuation plan for the facility, ominously referred to as the 'zone of death.'

"WHO, along with its partners, is urgently formulating plans for the immediate evacuation of the remaining patients, staff and their families." The organization stated that as of Saturday, 291 patients and 25 caregivers remained in the hospital.

News of the evacuation started to surface just before 3 a.m. According to the Polish Press Agency, the evacuation, declared voluntary by Israel, left only Israeli soldiers and a few health service workers in the hospital responsible for those patients too ill to be moved.

"We left at the point of a gun," Mahmoud Abu Auf shared with the Associated Press via a phone call as he and his family departed the bustling hospital.

He described the scene as riddled with "tanks and snipers, both inside and outside". He noticed Israeli soldiers taking three men into their custody.

Hospital houses tunnel

The Israeli army is conducting a search of the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, on the hunt for a Hamas control center, alleged to be located beneath the facility - an assertion rejected by both Hamas and hospital staff.

The army is working in a tunnel shaft found within the Al-Shifa hospital, military spokesperson Daniel Hagari reported on Saturday. He announced that more details on this issue will be made public soon, as stated by Times of Israel.

Israel accuses the terrorist organization Hamas, the ruling power in the Gaza Strip since 2007, of hiding their operations within public buildings and underneath residential structures.

The army spokesperson enumerated four main objectives for the army: gathering information about hostages held by Hamas, finding Hamas's weapons and control rooms, identifying Hamas agents in the area, and uncovering and demolishing Hamas's underground structures beneath the hospital. The army is also searching for other Hamas hideouts in Gaza Strip hospitals. Both Hamas and the hospitals have rebuffed the Israeli army's allegations about the subsistence of such underground installations beneath the medical facilities.

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