Palestinian evacuees say thousands of people sheltering at Shifa hospital have fled after strikes

by Andrew Wright
Gaza conflict

Palestinian evacuees from Gaza’s northern conflict areas report that a significant number of people, previously sheltered at Shifa Hospital in central Gaza City, have been displaced following recent overnight attacks.

The hospital had become a refuge for about 80,000 individuals escaping intense ground conflicts and air raids.

A number of evacuees on Friday indicated that only a few hundred severely injured patients and medical personnel remained at the hospital. Due to disruptions in phone and internet services, Shifa Hospital doctors were unavailable for immediate comment.

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: AP’s previous report is followed by this update.

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Thousands of Palestinians fled Gaza’s northern battle zones on Friday, heading towards the only major highway in Gaza, following Israel’s announcement of a temporary safe passage. The Palestinian death toll in the region has reportedly exceeded 11,000 amidst escalating airstrikes and ground confrontations in Gaza City. Many are seeking refuge in the south of Gaza, facing ongoing bombardment and harsh conditions. Hospitals, including their operating rooms and wards, have become overcrowded shelters.

Medical authorities in Gaza have accused Israel of launching attacks near hospitals on Friday, although Israel attributed at least one of these incidents to a misfired Palestinian rocket.

The largest city in Gaza has become the central focus of Israel’s efforts to dismantle Hamas after its unexpected incursion on October 7th.


Early Friday, an Israeli strike targeted the courtyard and the obstetrics department of Shifa Hospital, according to Ashraf al-Qidra, a Health Ministry spokesperson in Hamas-controlled Gaza. Video footage from the scene captured the sounds of incoming fire and ensuing panic among those sheltering in the hospital courtyard.

The Israeli military has claimed that Hamas uses hospitals as cover, including establishing a command center beneath Shifa, allegations both Hamas and hospital staff refute.

Shifa’s director, Mohammed Abu Selmia, in an Al Jazeera interview, expressed the impossibility of evacuating such a large number of patients due to a lack of alternative locations.

The Health Ministry later reported one fatality and several injuries at Shifa, and additional casualties near the Al-Nasr Medical Center, which includes two children’s hospitals.

According to Gaza health officials, strikes near four hospitals occurred overnight and early Friday.

A senior Israeli security official, speaking anonymously, mentioned that an ongoing investigation suggests that one of the strikes on Shifa may have been a misfire by militants.

At Shifa, families are sheltering in various parts of the hospital, as well as on the streets outside, according to Palestinian journalist Wafaa Abu Hajjaj and several recent evacuees. Essential supplies like food and clean water are scarce, with the situation worsening daily.

The World Health Organization’s spokesperson, Margaret Harris, noted that 20 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals have ceased functioning, including a pediatric hospital critical for treatments like dialysis and life support.


Over two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have fled their homes since the onset of hostilities. On Friday, a continuous flow of civilians used Gaza’s main highway to head south.

Families, including parents with young children, were seen leaving, some using donkey carts loaded with belongings, while others traveled by bicycle.

The Israeli military has designated specific times daily for civilians to safely leave northern Gaza, including a six-hour window on Friday.

The U.S. has reported that Israel agreed to a daily brief humanitarian pause, a move to systematize and extend the evacuation process. Additionally, Israel will open a second evacuation route, as per the White House.

Israeli estimates suggest over 850,000 people from northern Gaza, out of 1.1 million, have evacuated, as stated by military spokesman Jonathan Conricus.

U.N. expert Francesca Albanese criticized these pauses as insufficient and manipulative, providing brief respite before resuming hostilities.


The Gaza Health Ministry reports over 10,800 Palestinian deaths since the war’s commencement, with an additional 2,650 people reported missing. The ministry’s figures do not distinguish between civilian and militant casualties.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged the high Palestinian casualty rate and called for more effective measures to reduce civilian harm, despite some positive steps by Israel.

While some dispute the accuracy of Gaza Health Ministry’s figures, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf suggested the actual numbers might be higher.

In Israel, over 1,400 fatalities have been reported, primarily from the initial Hamas attack, and 41 Israeli soldiers have died in Gaza since the ground offensive began.

Hamas continues to launch rockets into Israel, with a recent attack in Tel Aviv injuring at least two, as reported by Israeli paramedic Yossi Elkabetz. Hamas has

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Gaza conflict

What is the current situation in Gaza City following recent Israeli strikes?

Thousands of Palestinians have fled Gaza City, particularly from the northern combat zones, after Israel intensified its airstrikes and ground operations. Shifa Hospital, which had sheltered nearly 80,000 people, experienced an exodus following the strikes. Despite accusations from Gaza’s medical officials of Israeli attacks near hospitals, Israel attributes at least one such incident to a misfired Palestinian rocket. The situation has led to overcrowding in other areas and a scarcity of essential supplies.

How many Palestinians have been displaced or killed in the recent conflict?

Since the conflict began, over two-thirds of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have fled their homes, and the Palestinian death toll has surpassed 11,000. However, the Gaza Health Ministry’s figures do not differentiate between civilian and militant casualties, and there is debate about the accuracy of these numbers.

What are the conditions like in Shifa Hospital and other medical facilities in Gaza?

Shifa Hospital, along with other medical facilities in Gaza, is facing critical challenges. The hospital has become overcrowded with families sheltering in various parts, including emergency rooms and surgical theaters. Essential supplies like food, water, and medical supplies are scarce. Additionally, 20 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are reported to be non-functional, severely impacting medical care in the region.

What has been the international response to the situation in Gaza?

The international community, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, has expressed concern over the high casualty rate in Gaza, calling for more effective measures to minimize civilian harm. The United Nations has criticized the brief humanitarian pauses allowed by Israel as insufficient. The World Health Organization has also raised alarms about the non-functionality of numerous hospitals in Gaza.

What are the implications for civilians fleeing the conflict zones in Gaza?

Civilians fleeing the conflict zones in Gaza are facing dire conditions, with limited safe havens available. Many have taken refuge in the south of Gaza or in overcrowded hospitals. The evacuation process has been complicated by limited humanitarian pauses and the scarcity of basic necessities like food and clean water. The situation has led to an increased risk of further civilian casualties and a humanitarian crisis.

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PeaceSeeker November 10, 2023 - 11:04 pm

How can we help those in Gaza? Is there a way to donate or volunteer? They need more than just our words.

ConcernedCitizen November 11, 2023 - 12:16 am

reading about kids in hospitals that can’t even get proper care… its just wrong, We need to put politics aside and focus on humanity first.

GlobeTrotter21 November 11, 2023 - 7:38 am

This is such a complex issue, but its clear the civilians are the ones suffering the most. where is the international community? why isn’t more being done?

MikeJohnson November 11, 2023 - 7:54 am

its really heartbreaking to see what’s happening in Gaza, Can’t imagine how people are surviving this, especially in hospitals like Shifa.

Sara_88 November 11, 2023 - 7:56 am

Wow, over 10,800 deaths? that’s horrific… and the world is just watching? we need to do more than just talk. Action is needed!


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