Israeli army launches operation at Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital

The Israeli army launched Monday an operation around Gaza's largest hospital, Al-Shifa, with witnesses reporting air strikes on the devastated neighbourhood where it is located.

Israeli soldiers "are currently conducting a precise operation in the area of the Shifa hospital", a statement from the military said.

"The operation is based on intelligence information indicating the use of the hospital by senior Hamas terrorists".

Witnesses in Gaza City told AFP they saw tanks surround the hospital site.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians displaced by the war have sought shelter in the complex, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.

The Israeli army had also carried out a November operation in Al-Shifa, sparking an international outcry.

Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of running military operations from hospitals and other medical centres, claims the militant group denies.

The Hamas government media office in Gaza condemned the operation, saying that "the storming of the Al-Shifa medical complex with tanks, drones, and weapons, and shooting inside it, is a war crime".

The health ministry in the besieged Hamas-run territory said it had received calls from people near the hospital site who claimed there were dozens of casualties.

"No one could transport them to the hospital due to the intensity of gunfire and artillery shelling," the ministry said.

The Israeli army has carried out multiple operations in and around medical facilities across the Gaza Strip since the start of the war.

The war began when Hamas launched an unprecedented attack from Gaza on October 7 that resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official figures.

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