Health officials say many patients, medical staff and those displaced by the ongoing war have left Gaza’s largest hospital, which was taken over by Israeli forces earlier in the week.
Palestinian officials and the Israeli military offered conflicting versions about what prompted the mass exodus from Shifa Hospital.
Israel’s military has been searching the hospital for traces of a Hamas command centre that it alleges was located under the building — a claim Hamas and the hospital staff deny – and urging the several thousand people still there to leave.
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.
The military said it did not order any evacuation, and that medical personnel are being allowed to remain in the hospital to support patients who cannot be moved.
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.
Later, Dr Ahmed Mokhallalati, a Shifa physician, said on social media that there were some 120 patients remaining who were unable to leave, including some in intensive care and premature babies, and that he and five other doctors were staying behind to care for them.