The Hamas terrorist organization’s use of civilian hospitals as centers for storing military equipment and planning attacks has been revealed as a serious human rights violation as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) close in on Al Shifa, a major hospital in the Gaza Strip.
Israel has long said the hospital was home to the Palestinian terror group’s main base of operations, as well as cover for the coastal enclave’s complex tunnel system and a hideout for fuel, water, food, and other supplies that were being withheld from Gaza’s civilian population.
Hamas, which rules Gaza, has denied this charge — an increasingly untenable position after this weekend, when Israel’s army took control of the areas immediately surrounding the hospital, holding territory just a block away. At the same time, gunfire emerged from the sprawling hospital complex — where battle has been ensuing — exposing it as a center for Hamas fighters.
The European Union on Sunday lambasted Hamas for using hospitals as “human shields,” calling for civilians to be allowed to leave the area of fighting.
“The EU condemns the use of hospitals and civilians as human shields by Hamas,” the EU said in a statement. “Civilians must be allowed to leave the combat zone. These hostilities are severely impacting hospitals and taking a horrific toll on civilians and medical staff.”
The statement went on to demand the immediate release of the roughly 240 hostages kidnapped by Hamas terrorists during their Oct. 7 massacre of southern Israeli communities. The hostages include children and elderly civilians.
Israel has presented an abundance of evidence in recent weeks detailing how Hamas has converted hospitals into operation centers and launchpads for missiles, while shielding the terror group behind the civilians using them.
Al Shifa is not the first hospital in Gaza to be the subject of controversy during the current war.
Last month, a misfired Palestinian rocket from Gaza caused a widely reported explosion near the Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, according to intelligence from Israel and several Western governments. Experts agreed that Israel was not responsible, despite Hamas and several media outlets falsely blaming an Israeli air strike for causing the hospital blast.
It is expected that the IDF will take over Al Shifa in the coming days. The Israeli army has already helped to evacuate patients toward southern Gaza, including newborn infants. Much of the hospital staff has also evacuated south, with reports from Gaza saying that the hospital has lost all power and suspended operations after running out of fuel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel had offered fuel to Al Shifa, but that the terrorists had refused to receive it. Several press reports, citing Arab and Western officials, have corroborated Israeli claims that Hamas has been hoarding hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel for rockets and electricity used to power its network of underground tunnels as Gaza hospitals struggle to maintain power.
Meanwhile, Israel announced that 200 million NIS (about $52 million) would be directed to completing the fortification of hospitals around the country, where roughly half are now protected from rocket and missile fire.
Troy O. Fritzhand, who goes by Osher in Hebrew, is a Jerusalem-based journalist covering Israeli politics, culture, and technology. An immigrant from New York, Troy is an entrepreneur and Hebrew thinker who helps oversee the start-up ecosystem in Jerusalem with Made in JLM. You can learn more about him at troyfritzhand.com. He previously served as the Politics and Knesset reporter at The Jerusalem Post and has been published in Jewish News Syndicate (JNS).
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