Hundreds of people evacuated Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza on foot on Saturday after the hospital's director said the Israeli army had ordered the hospital to be evacuated. The Hamas-run health ministry revealed in a statement that 120 wounded were still in the facility, along with an unspecified number of premature babies, adding that it was in contact with the Red Cross about the babies. Officials added that medical personnel remained behind to care for those who could not be moved.
Columns of sick and wounded, some of them with amputated legs, displaced people, doctors and nurses made their way to the coast. The Israeli army has denied ordering the evacuation. The army "joined the request of the director of Al Shifa Hospital to allow additional Gazans who were in the hospital and would like to evacuate to do so," the army said in a statement. The UN estimated that 2,300 patients, staff and displaced Palestinians were sheltering in Al-Shifa before Israeli troops moved in on Wednesday.
Israel accuses Hamas of staging attacks from hideouts beneath the sprawling health complex, and its troops have been searching the buildings for evidence to support its claims. Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules Gaza and has an armed wing, has consistently denied using hospitals as bases for fighters. Hamas health officials say dozens of patients have died in the hospital due to a power outage caused by fuel shortages due to intense fighting in northern Gaza. /BGNES