Gaza: MSF witnesses heavy fighting around Al-Shifa Hospital

As Israeli Forces announced on March 18 that they were conducting a military operation inside and around Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, northern Gaza, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff sheltering close by said heavy fighting was taking place.

One of our staff members said he heard drones, tanks and shelling near the hospital in the early hours of March 18 and witnessed a fire rising from Al-Shifa’s main building. He also said there were clashes around the MSF clinic and office in Gaza City, where some members of our staff and their families are still sheltering.

We are extremely concerned for the safety of the patients and medical staff trapped in the hospital compound, as well as for the safety of our colleagues and their families currently sheltering in the MSF clinic and office.  We call on all warring parties to respect the grounds and perimeter of the hospital and ensure the safety of medical personnel, patients and civilians.

According to our staff, Israeli Forces conducted mass arrests in the area surrounding Al-Shifa and we have lost contact with one of our staff members. Israeli Forces also issued an evacuation order to civilians to leave along Gaza’s coastal road toward al-Mawasi in southern Gaza, despite a new offensive having been announced to take place in the southern part of the enclave.