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'Worse than hell': Gazans caught in Al-Shifa hospital raid

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES – Around the Gaza Strip's besieged largest hospital, Palestinians have witnessed constant bombardment, mass arrests, tanks and corpses littering the streets during a multi-day Israeli raid, with no end in sight.

Israeli forces battling Hamas militants launched the operation in and around Gaza City's Al-Shifa hospital on Monday, saying senior operatives were based at the sprawling compound.

Since then, according to the military, about 150 Palestinian militants have been killed and hundreds more have been arrested or questioned.

And after five days, Israeli forces have shown no signs of pulling back.

"Everyone is afraid of being executed or arrested," said 59-year-old Mohammed, who lives about 500 meters from Al-Shifa and gave only his first name.

"I feel that Gaza has become worse than the fires of hell," he told AFP.

"I saw many bodies on Al-Shifa Street and tanks blocking the roads leading to the hospital. I saw fires in a house next to Al-Shifa."

The surrounding areas, the Al-Rimal neighborhood and Al-Shati refugee camp, are like "ghost towns", with only few residents remaining, said Mohammed.

Many Palestinians in the territory's north, where Gaza City is located, fled south earlier in the war, which began on October 7 with Hamas's attack on southern Israel.

The latest raid on Al-Shifa — following a military operation there in November that sparked international outrage — has sent more seeking safety elsewhere.

AFP footage showed streams of people fleeing south along Gaza's coast to escape the hospital onslaught on Thursday.

Mahmoud Abu Amra, 50, who lives in Al-Rimal, said Israeli troops forced "women and children to go west to Al-Rashid road on the coast, and then to the south of the Gaza Strip".

Those who remain in the north, about 300,000 people according to the United Nations, face dire conditions and crippling shortages of basic supplies.

Israel's military campaign against Hamas has killed at least 32,070 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory.

The October 7 attack on Israel resulted in about 1,160 deaths, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of