‘Come out, you animals’: how the massacre at al-Shifa Hospital happened

During the massacre at al-Shifa Hospital, the Israeli army shot patients in their beds and doctors who refused to abandon the sick, separated people into groups with differently-colored bracelets, and executed hundreds of civil government employees.

eople inspect the ruins of al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, April 1, 2024.

Human heads eaten by crows, unidentified and decomposing body parts, and hundreds of corpses piled up and buried in mass graves are all that remained of the victims of the massacre at al-Shifa Hospital. The grim scene was something out of a dystopian movie, the product of the two-week siege of Gaza’s largest hospital that ended in its total destruction.

PFollowing the completion of al-Shifa’s decimation, the Israeli army announced that it had been one of the most successful operations since the start of the war, claiming that it had arrested hundreds of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad members in the medical compound. But the question that no one seemed to ask is how such a massive number of so-called “operatives” from Hamas and PIJ had gathered at al-Shifa with the full knowledge that the place had already been combed by the army once before and that Gaza City had been occupied by the army ever since.

Mondoweiss contacted many survivors of the events at al-Shifa. Most of them refused to speak and feared exposing their identities. A few accepted under the condition of anonymity, fearing that their testimonies would make them targets by the Israeli army and that they would be subsequently killed. In light of the testimonies gathered by Mondoweiss, a different picture emerges of what happened.

The intelligence leak

One young man who managed to escape the hospital mere moments before the army invasion began said that there had indeed been hundreds of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad-affiliated employees in the hospital, but none of them were military operatives. They were workers in the Gaza government’s civil branch, including Civil Defense crews, the police force, the internal security services, interior ministry employees, and employees of other branches of the local government. All of them had gathered to receive their governmental salaries at al-Shifa, given that it was one of the few remaining places that was supposed to be relatively safe from the fighting.

“There was a room in the specialized surgeries building that served as an office for the government branches that operated aboveground,” said the young man, (hereafter named “Z”), referencing the Hamas government’s civilian branches.

Z also confirmed that a number of PIJ members who worked non-military jobs were there as well to receive salaries. “There was another building that was an office for the [PIJ] movement, and the men employed by the movement would go there to collect their salaries.”

“It had been a long time since any of these employees had seen one another,” Z explained. “That’s why they were all chatting in the medical compound and catching up with one another.”

The way the Israeli army described the gathering was that it had obtained confirmed intelligence reports of a large number of “terror operatives” from both groups inside al-Shifa, and after the raid, it announced that it had arrested 900 “suspects” and confirmed that 500 of them were “terror operatives,” while announcing that it had killed 200 more “gunmen,” among them “top commanders in Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”

More …

© Copyright JFJFP 2024