Israeli tanks withdrew from the Al-Shifa hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip, said Monday, April 1, the Ministry of Health of the Hamas-administered enclave, which said it had discovered a twenty corpses.

The Israeli army, which launched an operation two weeks ago against this hospital complex located in Gaza City, in the north of the territory, did not immediately confirm this withdrawal. An Agence France-Presse (AFP) journalist and witnesses saw tanks and vehicles leaving the hospital, covered by artillery fire and airstrikes.

“Dozens of bodies of martyrs, some in a state of decomposition, were found in and around the Al-Shifa hospital,” the Hamas health ministry said in a statement, specifying that the material damage is “very significant”.

According to a doctor interviewed by AFP, more than 20 bodies were recovered. According to him, some were crushed by military vehicles leaving the area.

At least 21 patients dead in hospital, WHO says

The Israeli army, which accuses Hamas fighters of hiding in hospitals, launched what it described as a “precise operation” in Al-Shifa on March 18. It has since announced that it has “eliminated around 200 terrorists” in the area. The operation began when hundreds of displaced people had found refuge within the hospital grounds.

On Sunday, the Israeli army claimed to have discovered “numerous weapons hidden in the pillows, beds” and even the ceilings of the hospital complex.

On Sunday, the director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that 21 patients at the hospital had died since the start of the Israeli operation. According to him, there are 107 patients left in this hospital, including four children and 28 patients in critical condition. “Many have infected wounds and are dehydrated” and, since Saturday, “there is only one bottle of water left for 15 people,” he added on X.

New bombings

Nearly six months after the start of the war triggered on October 7 by an unprecedented attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement in the south of the Jewish state, the Israeli offensive has seen no respite in the besieged Gaza Strip, with a heavy toll of 32,782 deaths, according to Hamas, a humanitarian catastrophe and immense destruction.

On October 7, Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza carried out an attack in southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of at least 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official data . According to Israel, around 250 people were also kidnapped and 130 of them are still held hostage, including 34 dead, in the Gaza Strip.

In retaliation, the Israeli army launched a campaign of intense aerial bombardments in the enclave, followed by a ground offensive which allowed its soldiers to advance from north to south, up to the gates of Rafah. The Israeli army announced Monday that 600 of its soldiers had been killed since October 7, including 256 in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian territory was battered on Sunday by new Israeli strikes, one of which targeted a hospital, according to the UN. According to the director of the WHO, a UN agency, “a camp on the grounds of Al-Aqsa hospital was hit by an Israeli airstrike”, killing four people. A WHO team was on mission at the time of the strike in this hospital in Deir Al-Balah (center), said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on operational command center of Islamic Jihad and terrorists positioned in the courtyard of Al-Aqsa Hospital”.

A truce agreement between Israel and Hamas is still not on the table, despite calls from international organizations, which fear famine for the majority of the 2.4 million inhabitants of the besieged Gaza Strip. “There is no question yet of a new round of negotiations,” wrote Osama Hamdan, a Hamas official, in a statement released on Sunday.

In recent months, indirect discussions via international mediators – Egypt, Qatar, United States – have been held in Doha and Cairo. Mr. Netanyahu had accused Hamas of having “hardened” its position with a view to a truce, while Israel had, according to him, “demonstrated flexibility”.