KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) — Patients, staff and displaced people left Gaza’s largest hospital Saturday, with one describing a panicked and chaotic evacuation as Israeli forces searched and face-scanned men among the evacuees and took some away. Israel’s military has been searching the hospital for a Hamas command center that it alleges is located under the building — a claim Hamas and the hospital staff deny.

The evacuation from Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, which Israel says was voluntary, left behind only Israeli forces and a small number of health workers to care for those too sick to move.

“We left at gunpoint,” Mahmoud Abu Auf told The Associated Press by phone after he and his family left the crowded hospital. “Tanks and snipers were everywhere inside and outside.” He said he saw Israeli forces detain three men.

Elsewhere in northern Gaza, dozens of people were killed in the urban Jabaliya refugee camp when what witnesses described as an Israeli airstrike hit a crowded U.N. shelter in the main combat zone. It caused massive destruction in the camp’s Fakhoura school, said wounded survivors Ahmed Radwan and Yassin Sharif.

“The scenes were horrifying. Corpses of women and children were on the ground. Others were screaming for help,” Radwan said by phone. AP photos from a local hospital showed more than 20 bodies wrapped in bloodstained sheets.

The Israeli military, which had warned Jabaliya residents and others in a social media post in Arabic to leave, said only that its troops were active in the area “with the aim of hitting terrorists.” It rarely comments on individual strikes, saying only that it targets Hamas while trying to minimize civilian harm.

“Receiving horrifying images & footage of scores of people killed and injured in another UNRWA school sheltering thousands of displaced,” Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner general of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, or UNRWA, said on X, formerly Twitter, pleading for a humanitarian cease-fire.

“Civilians cannot and should not have to bear this any longer,” U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said on X.

Attacks continued in southern Gaza. An Israeli airstrike hit a residential building on the outskirts of the town of Khan Younis, killing at least 26 Palestinians, according to a doctor at the hospital where the bodies were taken.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel’s forces have begun operating in eastern Gaza City while continuing its mission in western areas. “With every passing day, there are fewer places where Hamas terrorists can operate,” he said, adding that the militants would learn that in southern Gaza “in the coming days.”

His comments were the clearest indication yet that the military plans to expand its offensive to the southern areas of Gaza where Israel had told Palestinian civilians to flee early in the war. The evacuation zone is already crammed with displaced civilians, and it was not clear where they would go if the offensive moves closer.

It was not clear how the Shifa hospital evacuation occurred. On Saturday, the military said it had been asked by the hospital’s director to help those who would like to leave do so by a secure route.

Israel’s military said it did not order any evacuation. But Medhat Abbas, a spokesman for the Health Ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza, said the military had ordered the facility cleared, giving the hospital an hour to get people out.

A Shifa physician, Ahmed Mokhallalati, said on social media that about 120 patients remained, including some in intensive care and premature babies, and he and five other doctors were staying.

It also was not clear where those who left the hospital had gone, with 25 of Gaza’s hospitals non-functioning due to lack of fuel, damage and other problems, and the other 11 only partially operational, according to the World Health Organization.

Israel has said hospitals in northern Gaza were a key target of its ground offensive aimed at crushing Hamas, claiming they were used as militant command centers and weapons depots, which both Hamas and medical staff deny. Israeli troops have encircled or entered several hospitals.

Internet and phone service were restored Saturday to the Gaza Strip, ending a telecommunications outage that forced the United Nations to shut down critical aid deliveries.

The war, now in its seventh week, was triggered by Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel, in which militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted some 240 men, women and children. Fifty-two soldiers have been killed since the Israeli offensive began.

More than 11,500 Palestinians have been killed in the war, according to Palestinian health authorities. Another 2,700 have been reported missing, believed buried under rubble. The count does not differentiate between civilians and combatants, but more than two-thirds of those killed were women and children; Israel says it has killed thousands of militants.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that the Israeli military would have “full freedom” to operate within the territory after the war. The comments again put him in conflict with U.S. visions for a post-war era in Gaza.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the U.S. opposes an Israeli reoccupation of Gaza and envisions a unified Palestinian government in Gaza and the West Bank as a step toward a Palestinian state, long opposed by Netanyahu’s government.


Gaza’s main power plant shut down early in the war, and Israel has cut off electricity. That makes fuel necessary to power the generators needed to run the telecommunications network, water treatment plants, sanitation facilities, hospitals and other critical infrastructure for Gaza’s 2.3 million people.

Juliette Touma, spokeswoman for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, said 120,000 liters (31,700 gallons) of fuel arrived, meant to last for two days, after Israel agreed Friday to allow in that amount for the U.N.’s use. It is also allowing another 10,000 liters (2,642 gallons) to keep the telecommunications systems running.

The U.N. has warned that the amount of fuel being provided is only half of the daily minimum requirement.

It was not immediately clear when UNRWA would resume the delivery of aid that was put on hold Friday.

Gaza has received only 10% of its required food supplies each day in shipments from Egypt, according to the U.N., and the water system shutdown has left most of the population drinking contaminated water, causing an outbreak of disease. Dehydration and malnutrition are growing, with nearly all residents in need of food, according to the U.N.’s World Food Program.

In Jerusalem, thousands of marchers — including family members and supporters of some 240 hostages held in Gaza by Hamas — arrived on the last leg of a five-day trek from Tel Aviv, castigating Netanyahu over his handling of the war and pleading with the government to do more to bring their loved ones home.

With public pressure mounting, Netanyahu said Saturday that Israel’s War Cabinet would soon meet with representatives of the families. “I promise, when we have something to say, we will inform you,” said Netanyahu.

Rallies over the war were again held in several cities around the world.


The Israeli military said its aircraft struck what it described as a hideout for militants in the urban refugee camp of Balata in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service said five Palestinians were killed.

The deaths raised to 212 the number of Palestinians killed in West Bank violence since the war began, making it the deadliest period in the territory since the second Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s.

Some people moving south in Gaza recovered bodies of strangers along the way. “I found these young men inside the car. The car was destroyed,” said Moemen Abu Erban, one man on the move. “Frankly, it is a difficult thing. There is complete destruction.”

The bodies had been placed on a horse cart and covered with blankets.