Most patients and staff of Gaza’s Al Shifa Hospital have already been evacuated, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed in a recorded conversation with the medical center’s director on Saturday.
The hospital’s director told an Arab-speaking IDF officer that patients well enough to evacuate had already been transferred, and that most of the staff had left too.
The officer told the director, “When there is the opportunity and the possibility from a medical point of view, we will coordinate.”
As for Shifa’s medical teams, the director responded that they had left on their own, “and I have no control over them in the end.”
The recording did not indicate a precise number of patients or staff.
The IDF also said it had transferred 6,000 liters of water and over 2,300 kilograms [5,071 lbs] of food to the hospital, including fish, canned food, bread, spreads and dates.
The recording rebutted Palestinian claims that the IDF had demanded the hospital’s evacuation.
Shifa Hospital, located in Gaza City’s North Rimal neighborhood and boasting 570 beds, is Gaza’s largest medical center. It was originally built by British authorities in 1946. In the 1980s, Israel renovated and expanded the hospital as part of an initiative to improve Gaza living conditions.
As far back as 2009, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) reported during the war of that year that Hamas operatives were hiding in the hospital, and that the basement had become Hamas’s headquarters.
Last week, Israeli forces entered Shifa to conduct what the IDF said was a “targeted” operation against Hamas. Troops found weapons, military technology and intelligence information in the compound. Photos of hostages captured by Hamas during its Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 people in Israel were also found.
In recent weeks, Israel has provided extensive evidence that Hamas uses hospitals, mosques, schools and other civilian sites for its terror warfare against Israel, and that the terror group has a command center in the tunnel system underneath Shifa.
The IDF has publicized a safe evacuation route for civilians to leave Shifa and facilitated wide-scale evacuations ahead of its operation against Hamas.
On Friday, the Israel Defense Forces said that it recovered the body of Cpl. Noa Marciano from a building adjacent to Shifa, three days after confirming she was killed by Hamas in captivity.
A day earlier, the military announced that soldiers had located and recovered the body of Yehudit Weiss, 65, from a building near the hospital.