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Israeli military leave a trail of devastation as they withdraw from Gaza’s largest hospital

ISRAEL’S military left a trail of devastation as troops withdrew from Gaza’s largest hospital early today after a two-week assault.

The United Nations health agency said more than 20 patients died and dozens were put at risk during the attack on al-Shifa Hospital, which had already largely ceased to function.

Bassel al-Hilou said the bodies of seven of his relatives had been found in wreckage surrounding the hospital. 

He told reporters that there had been “a massacre in my uncle's house. The situation was indescribable.”

It is not yet known how many Palestinian civilians were killed during the attack. 

The Israeli military has denied harming any civilians inside the compound, saying those killed at al-Shifa were senior Hamas operatives.

Israel has accused Hamas of using hospitals for military purposes and has attacked medical facilities across Gaza.

Health officials in Gaza deny the allegations and accuse the army of recklessly endangering civilians and of decimating a health sector already overwhelmed with war-wounded. 

The conflict began with a surprise raid into southern Israel by Hamas on October 7 in which 1,200 people were killed and about 250 taken hostage.

Israel’s retaliation has killed at least 32,845 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry — around two thirds women and children.

The withdrawal came as the far-right Israeli government sought to ban a major news outlet from broadcasting into Israel.

Mr Netanyahu demanded today that his government prepare to push legislation through the Knesset that would allow him to “immediately act to close [Qatar-based broadcaster] al-Jazeera” as soon as it was adopted, according to a statement from his Likud party.

The Bill, passed in a first reading in February, would give the prime minister and the communications minister authority to shut down al -Jazeera and any foreign networks operating in Israel and confiscate their equipment if it is believed that they pose “harm to the state’s security.”

This followed a huge protest on Sunday by tens of thousands of Israelis in central Jerusalem —  the largest since the start of the war — demanding the government reach a ceasefire deal to free the 100 or so hostages still believed to be held in Gaza by Hamas and to hold early elections.

Protesters blame Mr Netanyahu for the failures of October 7 and say the deep political divisions over his attempted judicial overhaul last year weakened Israel ahead of the attack. 

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