The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Tuesday said forces were carrying out an operation inside of al-Shifa hospital, the largest medical facility in Gaza that Israeli officials said is a major base of operations for Hamas.
“Forces are carrying out a precise and targeted operation against Hamas in a specified area in the Shifa Hospital, based on intelligence information and an operational necessity,” the IDF wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Israel has been fighting outside al-Shifa for days, part of several clashes at hospitals and health care sites across Gaza City, which has alarmed humanitarian groups and the World Health Organization.
Israel has said al-Shifa is the biggest base of operations for Hamas, the Palestinian militant group it is aiming to dismantle for launching a deadly Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel that killed 1,200 people. Hamas also took about 239 hostages.
While Hamas disputes the claims it is operating inside of hospitals like al-Shifa, the U.S. shared declassified intelligence with reporters on Tuesday that it says shows Hamas does operate out of hospitals across Gaza.
Israeli forces undertaking the operation inside al-Shifa includes medical teams and Arab speakers who have been trained “to prepare for this complex and sensitive environment, with the intent that no harm is caused to the civilians being used by Hamas as human shields,” the IDF said in the post on X.
The IDF said officials also coordinated with hospital staff for evacuations before soldiers went inside the complex, and issued calls in the past 12 hours for all military activity to cease.
“Unfortunately, they did not,” the IDF wrote. “We call upon all Hamas terrorists present in the hospital to surrender.”
The fighting around al-Shifa in the past few days has already damaged the facility, which has reportedly run out of water, food and electricity. Some patients without ventilators have died, according to Doctors Without Borders, a humanitarian group.
Also on Tuesday, Palestinian health officials claimed there were mass graves being dug around al-Shifa. The Palestinian Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas, said Israel has bombed intensive care units at the hospital and power outages have endangered patients.
“The Israeli occupation puts all those present in the Shifa Medical Complex in the circle of death after being surrounded by all sides and violent bombings and intense shooting continue for two hours,” the Ministry wrote on Facebook.
Israel has vowed to completely destroy Hamas and ensure it can never attack Israel again, and has said the mission includes taking out command operations wherever they are.
IDF officials in recent days have released videos and photos to show purported Hamas operations inside hospitals, including weapons and alleged rooms to hold hostages.
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