Analysis: Terror orgs sustained stinging blow in Shifa Hospital battle
IDF soldiers fight terrorists at the Shifa Hospital complex in Gaza City, March 2024. (Photo: X/idfonline)

In what appears to be most successful single operation of the war, the IDF has captured hundreds of terrorists and gathered valuable intel.

By Yaakov Lappin
March 28, 2024

(JNS) — As more details emerge from the Israel Defense Force’s surprise raid on Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, which began on March 19, one thing has become clear: Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad absorbed a painful setback that will have strategic reverberations on their capabilities in northern Gaza.

The IDF has categorized the raid as one of its most successful operations in the entire war, due to the number of terrorists who surrendered, the number of terrorists killed in the hospital complex, and the intelligence gleaned from those being questioned.

So far, more than 180 terrorists inside Shifa and around the compound have been killed in the battle, and more than 500 have been arrested, including a string of senior terror commanders.

These Israeli military achievements will have “a huge effect on Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told journalists on March 25, adding that it was the most enemy combatants killed and captured in a single raid in the war, which will cause “severe damage” to terror organizations in the northern Gaza Strip.

“It concerns Hamas very much to know who are the ones that we have arrested,” said Hagari. “And the numbers, the huge numbers, concern them most of all. This is why we keep on pressing. This is our target in the war, dismantling the armed elements, to do that with the operatives and also with the leadership.”

Senior terrorists captured

Senior terrorists captured at Shifa include Bakr Ahmed Bakr Qanita, head of department in Hamas’s Security and Protection Unit; Radwan Younes Kamal Tafesh, head of department in the Weapon Manufacturing Unit of Islamic Jihad; and Hashem Muhammad Hasan Albatash, responsible for the financial affairs of Islamic Jihad’s Gaza City Brigade.

“These terrorists provide us with valuable intelligence during their interrogations that will lead us to further operations,” Hagari said on March 26. “And we keep on doing everything we can to kill the leadership of Hamas. And we are looking at following the intelligence … to other Hamas leaders whom we will capture or kill, I hope, in the future. This is a main effort for the IDF.”

Before launching the operation, the IDF used its intelligence units to learn how Shifa Hospital became, once again, a terror headquarters. This time, instead of the previous destruction of organized military Hamas structures in northern Gaza, the IDF took on smaller Hamas and PIJ cells that had taken over Shifa.

During questioning by the IDF Intelligence Corps’ Unit 504, captured terrorists said they returned to Shifa because they felt they’d be secure there, and because there is electricity, running water and available food.

Each terror organization took control of different hospital wards, intelligence has revealed.

Hamas also took over the offices of the Shifa Hospital director.

The IDF seized envelopes inside the hospital containing 11 million shekels ($3 million) of terror financing.

As such, Hamas and PIJ’s hope to turn the hospital into a terrorist hornet’s nest in northern Gaza has been shattered. There is no safe place for surviving cells in the area, and this message will further demoralize Hamas.

The fight at Shifa is not over. Hundreds of terrorists have been killed and captured after they opened fire at the IDF from the hospital’s courtyard, emergency room, “Qatari Building” and maternity ward.

Firefights continued on Wednesday as terrorists barricaded themselves in sections of the hospital, firing on Israeli forces and hurling explosives at them.

Hamas’s actions have caused heavy damage to the hospital compound. Earlier in the operation, Hamas terrorists in the hospital ordered cells outside of the hospital to fire mortars at the hospital buildings to try and force the IDF to evacuate it, according to Hagari.

Remarkably, the IDF’s operation has seen no harm come to a single patient, doctor, medical staff member, or civilian seeking refuge in the hospital.

The IDF evacuated patients to a safer location where they are receiving medical treatment. The army also provided more than 1,000 types of medications, food and water to these patients, while assisting Palestinian medical teams.

The military is proceeding with caution in an effort to avoid damaging the hospital and to secure its own forces on site, which include Israel Navy commandoes (Shayetet 13) and members of the 401st Brigade and the Nahal Reconnaissance Battalion, operating under the IDF’s 162nd Division, which is managing operations in northern Gaza.

Khan Yunis

On Tuesday evening, the IDF announced that it had initiated what it described as a focused operation at Khan Yunis’s Al-Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza.

The operation began following intelligence on Hamas activity in the hospital and was preceded by the safe evacuation of civilians, patients, and medical teams.

The IDF is demonstrating that not only does it have freedom of movement and access to these sites, but also that Hamas and PIJ will hijack any possible facility to try and continue to function as a terrorist threat.

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