PA health minister seeks probe into deadly Israeli raid on Gaza hospital

Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila has called for an “urgent probe” after Israeli forces were accused of crushing Palestinians, including wounded patients, using bulldozers in the yard of Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza.

On Saturday, doctors and other witnesses said Israeli forces bulldozed tents housing displaced Palestinians near the hospital – one of the 11 hospitals still functioning inside Gaza since Israel launched its military offensive on October 7 – and crushed them to death.

Witnesses told Al Jazeera that civilians were deliberately targeted.

“People were buried alive using bulldozers. Who could do that? All those who committed this crime should be brought to justice and taken to the international criminal court,” a witness said.

Several videos shared on social media also appear to show people crushed under the rubble in front of the Kamal Adwan Hospital.

‘It crushed people and their tents’

“The bulldozer has destroyed a great deal of the hospital’s facilities,” Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud, reporting from Rafah in southern Gaza, said on Sunday morning. “It crushed people and their tents in the courtyard and some 20 people were crushed and buried under the rubble,” he said.

In a press statement, according to Palestine’s news agency Wafa, Health Minister al-Kaila urged the international community to investigate what happened at the hospital and not ignore the “war crimes” taking place in Gaza.

She also highlighted that the Israeli army destroyed the southern part of the hospital, and said 12 infants remain inside the incubators in the hospital without water or food.

While Israeli forces have now withdrawn from the hospital, the army said it has detained 90 people, and found weapons and munitions inside the hospital after this raid.

Israeli forces raided the hospital on Tuesday after besieging and shelling it for several days.

‘Fear and horror at hospital’

Since Kamal Adwan Hospital was raided, it has been filled with fear and horror according to doctors.

“The wounded need operations but we cannot do anything,” Wafa Albus, a doctor in the hospital, told Al Jazeera.

Pointing at a woman and a man lying on the floor, she said there were no mattresses for patients.

“Is this a hospital? This situation is unbearable,” she said.

She also described how the Israeli forces treated patients and doctors during the raid which lasted for several days.

“They arrested the manager of the hospital and interrogated all of the medical staff … They even let sniffer dogs on us. The dogs also attacked an old man in a wheelchair.”

Earlier this week, Leo Cans, Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) head of mission for Palestine, told Al Jazeera that the situation in Kamal Adwan is catastrophic.

“We are outraged by what’s going on,” he said, adding that medics in Gaza were operating in conditions comparable to World War I.

“We are operating on the floor. Children are arriving with very bad injuries, and [surgeons] have to do multiple operations but there are no more beds,” he said.

Al Jazeera’s Hani pointed out how the raids carried out at the Kamal Adwan Hospital were similar to other hospitals earlier in the offensive. Al-Shifa Hospital, the enclave’s largest medical facility located in north Gaza, remains paralysed after it was targeted by Israeli forces previously.

The UN health agency on Saturday delivered medical supplies and drugs to the hospital, which “needs to urgently resume at least basic operations to continue serving the thousands in need of lifesaving healthcare”.

“Only a handful of doctors and a few nurses, together with 70 volunteers” were still working under what WHO staff called “unbelievably challenging circumstances,” it said.

Kamal Adwan Hospital
Palestinians running for shelter next to covered bodies after an Israeli air raid near the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip [File: Mohammad Ahmad/AFP]

Israeli troops had also raided the Indonesian Hospital in northern Gaza, an area devastated by more than two months of relentless Israeli bombardment.

The World Health Organization says only 11 out of 36 of Gaza’s hospitals remain partially functional and pleaded for them to remain intact.

“We cannot afford to lose any healthcare facilities or hospitals,” Rik Peeperkorn, WHO representative for the occupied Palestinian territories, told a UN press briefing earlier this week by video link from Gaza.

“We hope, we plead that this will not happen.”

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