Palestinian Territory - The Israeli army carried out a massive, shockingly horrific military operation in Al-Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza City over the course of the past two weeks, indiscriminately targeting and attacking Palestinians regardless of their civilian status, professional standing, gender, age, or health condition.

Though the exact number of casualties from the atrocity is still unknown, preliminary reports suggest that over 1,500 Palestinians have been killed, injured, or are reported missing as a result of the massacre at Al-Shifa, with women and children making up half of the casualties. Euro-Med Monitor is able to confirm from its initial investigation and testimonies that hundreds of dead bodies, including some burned, and others with their heads and limbs severed, have been discovered both inside Al-Shifa Medical Complex and in the hospital’s surrounding area.  

   The attack on Shifa is the most visible aspect yet of Israel’s systematic and carefully-crafted plan to destroy and besiege the Gaza Strip’s health sector   

The massacre claimed the lives of at least 22 patients who were killed in their hospital beds during the Israeli siege of the Medical Complex, amid the willful deprivation of their access to food, medical care, and supplies. Israel’s army also purposefully prevented relief teams and representatives of international organisations from entering Al-Shifa to carry out humanitarian missions or evacuations, plus purposefully cleared the Complex of all working personnel—particularly medical personnel—either by summary execution or forced displacement or arrest. The whereabouts of some of these individuals are still unknown.

Al-Shifa Medical Complex is currently out of service due to the Israeli army bombing and setting fire to every one of its buildings, including the mortuary and all internal and external courtyards and corridors. 

The attack on Al-Shifa Medical Complex is the most visible aspect yet of Israel’s systematic and carefully-crafted plan to destroy and besiege the Gaza Strip’s health sector, bring it to the brink of collapse, and deny the Palestinian population any chance at survival or medical care, or shelter. 

Members of the Israeli army forced more than 25,000 Palestinian civilians to evacuate their homes in the vicinity of Al-Shifa Medical Complex. These forced evacuations occurred after Israel committed horrendous crimes against local families, including killing, direct targeting, besieging, and starving them, as well as arbitrary arrests and destroying and burning homes and civilian objects. According to initial estimates, the Israeli army demolished and set ablaze over 1,200 housing units in the vicinity of Al-Shifa Medical Complex.

At dawn on Monday, the Israeli soldiers and vehicles withdrew from the Medical Complex, which is considered the largest medical facility in the Gaza Strip. The Complex housed three specialised hospitals with a combined clinical capacity of 800 beds: the Surgery Hospital, the Internal Medicine Hospital, and the Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital. Built on a 42,000-square-metre plot, the Complex housed multiple buildings, some with multiple stories, and provided coverage for the Gaza Governorate and the Gaza Strip as a whole.

The massacre at Al-Shifa Medical Complex and the systematic and widespread targeting of civilians and civilian objects, i.e. the targeting of what is left of the health system in the Gaza Strip, killing and putting thousands of sick and injured civilians, displaced families, medical teams, and journalists at risk of being directly targeted, depriving the population of its civilian status and severing families from one another. These crimes are further proof of the genocide that Israel has been committing against the Palestinian people in the Strip for the past six months.

The Israeli army committed the Al-Shifa Medical Complex massacre with the utmost disregard for international humanitarian law, particularly its rules pertaining to distinction, proportionality, and military necessity; respect for the unique protections enjoyed by civilian hospitals and medical teams; protection for civilians; protection for the sick and wounded; and the prohibition against targeting them even if they are military personnel.

As Israel has not yet produced any documentation to justify or validate its massive and dangerous execution of crimes that are flagrant violations of international humanitarian law, all international bodies and institutions present and operating in the Gaza Strip, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, should visit the crime scene, document all forensic evidence associated with it, and gather witness and victim testimonies. In addition, the relevant local authorities in the Strip must take immediate steps to protect the crime scene, document any related evidence, and take all reasonable precautions to prevent the loss or destruction of this evidence.

Eyewitnesses and survivors can contact Euro-Med Monitor crews at 00447775170355 to provide their testimonies regarding the massacre at Al-Shifa Medical Complex. This will allow our crews to preserve evidence for future international investigations and do all the necessary work, including contacting the appropriate international institutions.

Israel is still implementing its policy to forcefully evacuate the people of Gaza City and the surrounding areas, through forced displacement orders, extensive military operations, starvation, siege, and denial of the basic necessities of life, including medical care. All of these events fall under the larger context of Israel’s crime of forced displacement against all the Palestinian People in the Gaza Strip.

The international community must act swiftly and forcefully to defend Palestinian civilians against the genocide that Israel has been committing in the Gaza Strip for the past six months. This action should include safeguarding the ill, injured, displaced, medical personnel, and journalists, as well as applying genuine pressure on Israel to cease its grave crimes in the region, including those committed against medical facilities, as well as its forced displacement and starvation of civilians.

The international community must work together to ensure that Israel complies with international law, and the ruling of the International Court of Justice, and is held responsible for all its crimes, including the massacre conducted in Al-Shifa Medical Complex.