THE Israeli military has withdrawn from Gaza’s main hospital after a two-week raid, leaving behind a swathe of destruction, Palestinian residents said.

Hundreds of people returned to Al-Shifa Hospital and the surrounding area after the withdrawal early on Monday, where they found bodies inside and outside the facility.

There was no immediate comment from the military, which has described the raid as one of the most successful operations of the nearly six-month war.

READ MORE: 'Stripped naked and forced to march past bodies': Israeli forces raid Gaza hospitals

On the ground, Al Jazeera reporter Ismail al-Ghoul said people are trying to salvage what they can from the ruins. The hospital was also bring used as a shelter for displaced people as well as housing for hospital staff and patients.

“There is no life here. The complex is in ruins and cannot be revived,” he reported.

The army says it killed scores of Hamas and other militants, including senior operatives, and that it seized weapons and valuable intelligence. During the siege, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) had called for urgent protections for hundreds of healthcare workers, patients and civilians sheltering and trapped.

The aid organisation reported that among those trapped in the Al-Shifa Hospital with little food or water were two children. Siblings Rafif Doughnosh, 13, and Rafiq Doughnosh, 15, had to have their limbs amputated after an Israeli military airstrike.

The National:

Mohammed Mahdi, who was among those to return, described a scene of “total destruction”. He said several buildings had been burned down. He counted six bodies in the area, including two in the hospital courtyard.

Another resident, Yahia Abu Auf, said there were still patients, medical workers and displaced people sheltering inside the medical compound. He said several patients had been taken to the nearby Ahli Hospital, and that army bulldozers had ploughed over a makeshift cemetery inside the hospital compound.

“The situation is indescribable,” he said. “The occupation destroyed all sense of life here.”

Israel has accused Hamas of using hospitals for military purposes and has raided several medical facilities. The army have been accused of recklessly endangering civilians and of decimating a health sector already overwhelmed with war wounded.

The UN health agency said several patients died and dozens were put at risk during the raid, which brought even further destruction to a hospital that had already largely ceased to function.

Days of heavy fighting showed that Hamas can still put up resistance even in one of the hardest-hit areas of Gaza.

READ MORE: Shifa: Civilians trapped after five-day siege of a Gaza hospital

Video footage circulating online showed heavily damaged and charred buildings, mounds of dirt that had been churned up by bulldozers and patients on stretchers in darkened corridors.

Palestinians say Israeli troops forcibly evacuated homes near Al-Shifa Hospital in central Gaza City and forced hundreds of residents to march south.

At least 21 patients have died since the raid began, World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus posted late on Sunday on X, formerly Twitter.

He said over a hundred patients were still inside the compound, including four children and 28 critical patients. He also said there were no nappies, urine bags or water to clean wounds, and that many patients suffered from infected wounds and dehydration.

The military had previously raided Al-Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, in November, after saying Hamas maintained an elaborate command and control centre inside and beneath the compound.

The National:

It revealed a tunnel running beneath the hospital that led to a few rooms, as well as weapons it said it had confiscated from inside medical buildings, but nothing on the scale of what it had alleged prior to the raid.

The bombardment began on October 7, when Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel, killing some 1200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 250 people hostage.

Israel responded with an air, land and sea offensive that has killed at least 32,782 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. The ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its count but says women and children have made up around two-thirds of those killed.

The Israeli military says it has killed over 13,000 Hamas fighters, and blames the civilian death toll on Palestinian militants because they fight in dense residential areas.

The war has displaced most of the territory’s population and driven a third of its residents to the brink of famine. Northern Gaza, where Al-Shifa is located, has suffered vast destruction and has been largely isolated since October, leading to widespread hunger.