“Medical personnel will remain in the hospital to support patients who are unable to evacuate,” the Israeli military said in a statement, adding that it had provided “additional food, water and humanitarian assistance” to Al-Shifa overnight.
It was not immediately clear how many patients, staff members or Israeli soldiers remained in the complex. Munir al-Bursh, an official with the Gazan Health Ministry, said in a statement that at least 120 patients and five doctors were inside.
Some of those who have left hospitals in the north in recent weeks have ended up at the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Younis, in the south, where families have been sleeping in crowded corridors and workers have been scrambling to treat patients amid a shortage of beds, according to Dr. Saleh Al-Hamase, the hospital’s head of nursing.
Dozens of wounded people went to the hospital after a nearly 16-mile journey from Al-Shifa last week, many on foot and some in wheelchairs, Dr. Al-Hamase said. Only the most severe cases were sent in ambulances, he said.
The hospital was preparing on Saturday to receive 200 more patients from Al-Shifa, Dr. Al-Hamase said.
“We are days away from running out of fuel and collapsing,” he said. “The scenes at the hospital are tragic, and the bombardment around us is continuous.”
Israeli soldiers seized the Al-Shifa hospital complex on Wednesday, saying that it hosted an underground Hamas command center. Both the Palestinian armed group and Al-Shifa officials have denied the accusation.
Israeli troops say they have found weapons caches in the complex and, near the hospital, the bodies of two Israeli hostages captured by Hamas during its Oct. 7 attacks in southern Israel.
On Thursday, the Israeli military escorted journalists from The New York Times to Al-Shifa to see a stone-and-concrete shaft with a staircase descending into the earth — evidence, the military said, of a Hamas presence there. But the army has yet to provide conclusive proof of a subterranean military base.
The departures from Al-Shifa came as the Israeli military, having claimed control of northern Gaza, signaled plans to expand its offensive against Hamas into the south, where hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled in recent weeks in the hopes of escaping pounding airstrikes and widespread destruction.
Even as Israel continued to tell civilians to flee south for their own safety, the Israeli military’s chief spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said late Friday that its troops would continue operations “in every place that Hamas is, and it is in the south of the strip.”
His statement appeared to telegraph a new phase in the war, three weeks into Israel’s ground invasion.