The Israeli army denies forcing anyone to leave the hospital, which has been besieged for days.
Medical sources inside the facility told Al Jazeera that Israeli forces ordered doctors, patients and displaced persons at Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital to evacuate the medical complex, giving them an hour to do so and forcing some to leave at gunpoint.
But one Post on X On Saturday, the Israeli army denied forcing anyone to leave, saying the IDF “accepted the request of the director of Shifa Hospital and allowed additional Gazans who were in the hospital and wanted to leave to do so through a safe route”.
Mohammed Jagout, director general of hospitals in Gaza, reiterated to Al Jazeera: “I categorically deny these false allegations. [from the Israeli army] … I tell you we were forced out at gunpoint.
Al-Shifa houses more than 7,000 people, including critically ill patients and newborns fighting for their lives. The facility has been under siege by Israeli forces for several days.
Earlier, a doctor in Al-Shifa told Al Jazeera that it was “impossible” to evacuate everyone.
The situation caused “great panic and fear” in the hospital, Al Jazeera’s Youmna Elzayed reported from Khan Younis in southern Gaza. “They don’t have any ambulances to transfer patients and premature babies to the south [of Gaza].”
Among those in al-Shifa are at least 300 patients, some or most of whom are in serious or critical condition, as well as thousands of displaced families.
These include “at least 35 premature babies who have already been out of incubators for eight days due to lack of oxygen and lack of electricity,” Elsayed said. There were 39 babies left without incubators; Four died late on Friday and five are now critically ill, our correspondent added.
“Due to lack of fuel, there is no transport in Gaza City and northern areas, so people are expected to leave on foot. Doctors tell us that it is impossible to evacuate so many people on foot. Doctors also do not want to abandon their patients,” he said.
Hospital supervisor Omar Zaqout told Al Jazeera after the Israeli army’s “one-hour” deadline passed on Saturday morning that forced evacuations had begun and the scenes outside the facility were “terrifying”.
“We were told to exit through Al-Wehta Road. Dozens of dead bodies are strewn on the road,” he said. “Many homeless people who can’t walk are left out in the open.”
Munir al-Barsh, a doctor at Al-Shifa Hospital, said the Israeli army called at around 9am. [7:00 GMT]He warned that all those leaving should walk in a single line, waving white handkerchiefs.
“They were humiliated by soldiers all along the road,” Al-Barsh told Al Jazeera.
“Many of the patients were placed in wheelchairs or on rolling beds. Family members were forced to carry their injured children or parents themselves… these were horrific, unprecedented scenes,” he said.
The medics said the Israeli army instructed people to evacuate through Al-Rashid Street, not the usual street or route through which people fleeing to the south – Salah Al-Din Street.
ElSayed said the army did not provide any fuel for ambulances or cars to transport patients, premature babies and displaced families.
The hospital has been without food, water, electricity and oxygen for at least a week, while Israeli troops and tanks have been raiding the facility for the past two days. Israel claimed a Hamas command center was located beneath the hospital, but found no evidence to support its claim. Hamas and hospital staff have always rejected the Israeli claims.
Zaqout added that the lack of water supply in al-Shifa caused what he called a “lack of hygiene and cleanliness”.
“Power has been cut for more than three weeks. Infants and newborns are deprived of oxygen. It is nothing but a medieval cave,” he said.