IDF finds weapons, ammo and terrorists embedded throughout Shifa Hospital

An Israel soldier during a counterterror operation at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, March 30, 2024. Credit: IDF.

(JNS) — Israeli Defense Forces soldiers found weapons and ammunition in the maternity ward of Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the army said on March 31.

Troops from the Nahal Reconnaissance Unit killed armed terrorists in two battles inside the maternity ward before conducting searches, where they located weapons, ammunition and communication devices hidden within the walls and ceilings, as well as in the pillows of patients and inside hospital beds.

Dozens of mortar shells, explosive devices, sniper rifles, Kalashnikov rifles, pistols, magazines, mortars and additional ammunition were seized.

“During one of the sweeps in the compound, the forces encountered armed terrorists and senior operatives of the Hamas terrorist organization in a stairwell. A pursuit and exchange of fire ensued, during which the senior terrorists were eliminated,” according to the IDF statement.

The IDF and Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) are nearly two weeks into a joint operation at the Strip’s largest medical center that began on March 19, based on urgent intelligence that Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists had regrouped there.

“Hamas hijacked the Shifa Hospital and hides behind the sick and injured, waging war from inside Shifa Hospital,” IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in his regular press briefing on March 24.

Furthermore, Hagari said that Hamas was destroying the hospital by firing mortars at troops, which damage the buildings. The terrorist group is also firing at Israeli forces from inside the Shifa Emergency Room and Maternity Ward and throwing explosive devices from the Shifa Burn Ward, he said.

In contrast, “the IDF operates with precision and acts with care towards the patients and medical staff inside the hospital,” Hagari continued, noting that the IDF has moved the sick and wounded away from the combat zone, brought dozens of medical devices, over 10,000 units of medications, hundreds of medical supplies, food, water and other equipment to Shifa.

Troops also restored electricity to the hospital after Hamas’s attacks knocked out the generator.

“Our operation at Shifa Hospital proves once again: Hamas systematically uses hospitals to wage war and consistently uses the people of Gaza as human shields,” Hagari concluded.

“After two weeks, we carried out a successful operation. To carry out something of this scale during a war is very complex,” IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said during a visit to Shifa on March 29.

“We are doing everything possible to prevent harm to patients and medical teams. The fact that this operation saw no harm to a single medical staff member or patient, but we were able to kill and capture many, many terrorists, is a very significant achievement,” he continued.

“This operation is not over, but we achieved a major goal, and we will continue to operate thoroughly until we are successful,” Halevi said.

Shifa Hospital in Gaza City during an Israeli counterterror operation, March 30, 2024. Credit: IDF.

Hundreds of terrorists have been killed or captured since the beginning of the Shifa battle. Approximately 200 terrorists have been slain and more than 500 Hamas and Islamic Jihad members have been arrested.

According to the IDF, those killed in recent days include senior Hamas leader Ra’ad Thabat; Mahmoud Khalil Ziqzouq, deputy head of the Rocket Unit in Gaza City; Zakariya Najeeb, a senior operative in the Judea and Samaria headquarters of Hamas; and Fadi Dewik, a senior operative in the Military Intelligence of Hamas.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces continue to be active in the central and northern Gaza Strip, with the aerial destruction of several compounds used to fire anti-tank missiles and where snipers operated in Rimal, Gaza City’s most prosperous neighborhood.

Fifteen terrorists were killed over the past day in the central Strip, including a terrorist cell exiting a tunnel shaft near Israeli troops.

Over the past day, the Israeli Air Force attacked 80 terrorist targets across the Strip.

Furthermore, ground and air forces killed terrorists in the southern Strip, including in the area of Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Yunis. Another 15 terrorists were killed there and weapons and military equipment were seized.

IAF slays Islamic Jihad commander operating at Gaza hospital

An Israeli Air Force aircraft killed an Islamic Jihad commander who was operating in the courtyard of al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al Balah in the central Gaza Strip, the military said on March 31.

Other terrorists were killed in the lengthy battle, according to the army, noting that they were targeted in a “precise manner” so as not to harm noncombatants.

“Al-Aqsa Hospital was not damaged by the attack and its regular functioning was not affected,” the IDF said.

“The presence of the military operations room and the terrorists who operated in the hospital yard are further proof of the systematic use of humanitarian and medical infrastructure by the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip as a cover for terrorist activities,” it said.