Having raided the coastal enclave's largest medical facility for the second day in a row in an attempt to procure evidence, Israel has long claimed that Hamas has used the hospital as a command centre. Here is a brief overview of the hospital and its history of being at the centre of conflict.
Al-Shifa Hospital, situated in the heart of the Gaza Strip within the northern Rimal neighbourhood of Gaza City, stands as a testament to the resilience and challenges faced by healthcare facilities in conflict zones.
The hospital's history is deeply rooted in the political and military upheavals of the region, with its origins tracing back to a British Army barracks during the British Mandate of Palestine in 1946.
Originally known as Dar al-Shifa, meaning "house of healing" in Arabic, the facility was initially established to address quarantine and febrile diseases, catering to the medical needs of the local population.
However, the hospital underwent a transformative period during the Egyptian administration of Gaza following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
It evolved into the central hospital for the region, expanding its infrastructure to include vital departments such as internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, and ophthalmology.
In the aftermath of the 1956 Suez Crisis, the hospital faced a brief occupation by Israeli forces. Despite this, the returning Egyptian administration, under the leadership of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, prioritised the healthcare and social well-being of Gaza's residents.
Al-Shifa saw further expansion, incorporating departments for obstetrics and gynaecology.
The Egyptians established a comprehensive health administration for the Gaza region, complemented by clinics throughout the city staffed by doctors from Al-Shifa.
The hospital continued to play a pivotal role during the 1967 Six-Day War, despite the challenges posed by the entire Egyptian administration and staff being taken prisoner.
By 1969, the department of internal medicine had grown to include several sub-departments, showcasing the hospital's resilience in the face of adversity.
A significant chapter in Al-Shifa's history unfolded in the 1980s when the hospital underwent a major renovation and expansion project under Israeli administration.
Designed by Israeli architects Gershon Tzapor and Benjamin Edelson, the project aimed to improve living conditions for Gaza residents and foster mutual existence between Jews and Arabs.
The hospital's architecture mirrored modernist and post-modernist trends in Israeli design, with a campus intended to house 900 beds.
The project included the construction of an extensive underground infrastructure which soon became a focal point during subsequent conflicts, with Israeli authorities pointing to the underground features as evidence of Hamas's military use of the hospital.