The Israel Defense Forces said it is carrying out a “precise and targeted operation” in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza.
A statement accused Hamas of “continued military use of the Shifa hospital,” which, it said, “jeopardised the hospital’s protected status under international law.”
Israel believes it has given the Hamas operatives it accuses of being inside the hospital sufficient time to cease their activities inside the building, according to the statement.
Hospital officials have consistently rejected Israel’s claims that Hamas has built an important command center under the hospital, Gaza’s largest.
Hundreds of staff and patients are still at Al-Shifa, according to the most recent reports from inside the hospital, along with several thousand who have sought shelter from Israel’s air and ground offensive.
Medics “who have undergone specified training to prepare for this complex and sensitive environment” are among the Israeli forces carrying out the raid, the IDF said.
A doctor at Al Shifa told CNN they were given a 30-minute warning before the Israeli operation on the complex began.
“We were asked to stay clear of the windows and the balconies. We can hear the armored vehicles, they are very close to the entrance of the complex,” Dr. Khaled Abu Samra said.
Some background: On Tuesday, the White House and the Pentagon said that Hamas is storing weapons and operating a command center from Al-Shifa Hospital.
The remarks echoed claims made by Israel, which Palestinian hospital officials and Hamas have rejected.
The Pentagon said the US has newly declassified intelligence that claims to show that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad were using hospitals — including Al-Shifa — as a “way to conceal and support their military operations and hold hostages.”