The excruciating dilemma of Gaza's hospitals
While Israel is trying to spare civilian lives, US and UK pressure strengthens Hamas
So now the US has confirmed that Gaza’s al Shifa hospital is indeed used by Hamas as a command and control centre, just as Israel has always claimed — and moreover that Hamas may have actually held some of the hostages there in its tunnels beneath the hospital. Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters today:
They have weapons stored there and are prepared to respond to an Israeli military operation against the facility.
This was reinforced by the White House, which said the US has intelligence proving that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are using al Shifa and other hospitals for holding hostages and for military activity. The Times of Israel reports:
“We have information that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad use some hospitals in the Gaza Strip, including al Shifa, and tunnels underneath them to conceal and to support their military operations and to hold hostages,” White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby tells reporters during a briefing.
“Hamas and the Palestinian Palestinian Islamic Jihad members operate a command and control [centre] from al Shifa in Gaza City. They have stored weapons there and they’re prepared to respond to an Israeli military operation against that facility,” Kirby says, citing US intelligence assessments.
Confirmation that Hamas is using the hospitals in this way has arrived to a crescendo of poisonous public hostility against Israel as its troops surround al Shifa in order to destroy the Hamas bunker. Tonight, the Israel Defence Forces have called on the Hamas operatives hunkered down there to surrender.
Western media outlets, which had been displaying contemptuous disbelief towards Israel’s claims that Gaza’s hospitals were being used as Hamas strongholds, began to look worse than stupid this week. First the IDF killed 21 Hamas terrorists who opened fire at them from the al Shifa entrance. Then the IDF revealed its discovery of Hamas tunnels underneath Gaza’s Rantisi children’s hospital, with a stash of weapons and evidence that some hostages had been kept there including a baby’s bottle and, most ominously, a bloody knife.
Despite the fact that Hamas have committed multiple heinous war crimes and crimes against humanity by using patients, hospital staff and the hostages as human shields, western public hostility and calls for restraint are being directed at Israel — as if Israel, not Hamas, are the war criminals.
“Hospitals and patients must be protected,” said the White House, stressing that innocent people do not “deserve not to be caught in the crossfire”.
Doctors at al Shifa have been reported as saying that two babies have already died and more are in danger through shortages of power and incubators. The World Health Organisation said that al Shifa “is not functioning as a hospital any more” after running out of fuel and water. The IDF has been accused of shelling the hospital; Israel says this is untrue and that it has been bombed instead by Hamas.
In the fog of war, the truth is often obscured by claim and counter-claim. What western media outlets never acknowledge, however, is that Gaza is entirely under Hamas control; nothing happens there without its approval or direction. As staff at al Shifa have testified in the past, they will be in fear of their lives unless they do and say precisely what Hamas orders them to do or say.
It should surely be clear to all with eyes to see, however, that the IDF is going to unprecedented lengths to protect the hospital’s patients and staff. The Israelis have been constantly urging the hospital to evacuate, and say people can leave at any time through a side of the hospital that remains open.
They say the hospital has electricity, that Hamas has stolen fuel that the IDF has supplied and that it has turned down further offers of fuel. In a news conference yesterday, IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari circulated a video that showed Israeli troops leaving fuel about 1000 feet from the hospital’s main entrance.
According to the New York Times, Dr. Ashraf al Qudra, a spokesman for the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, confirmed Israeli reports that an offer of hundreds of litres of fuel was made to hospital staff but said it was rejected because
taking this fuel would give Israel credit for allowing fuel into Gaza.
Here is a video (caution: taken from X/Twitter and unverified) of a frantic nurse at al Shifa crying:
Hamas is taking over the entire hospital. They are taking hold of the fuel, the medicine. I have nothing to treat with. I have to treat a fracture, a five year-old boy without morphine, because Hamas have taken it for themselves.
Today, the Jerusalem Post reported that the IDF is co-ordinating the transfer from an Israeli hospital to al Shifa of incubators for newborns. Sam Halpern wrote:
In a phone call released by the IDF, an officer from the Co-ordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) to Gaza, speaking with the Director General of AlShifa Hospital, can be heard offering the incubators as well as helping evacuate children and patients from the facility.
“We are ready to provide you with any assistance you wish to evacuate children and patients. We are ready to provide you with any assistance. We’ll even provide you with an incubator,” the officer said.
Asked if there was anything else he needed, the director general said that they needed respirators for some children who were in need of oxygen.The Israeli officer vowed to do what he could to secure the needed equipment.
“Anything, despite all the difficulties; whatever I can do, I will try to help you,” the CLA officer said. “I will help you protect the injured and the patients.” “Ok, and also the medical staff,” the director general said. “Of course, of course,” the CLA officer replied.
In a video released by the IDF along with the recording of the phone call, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) spokesperson, Shani Sasson, standing in front of the incubators that are to be sent to al Shifa, stated that “extensive efforts are underway to ensure that these incubators… can reach babies in Gaza without delay. Our war is against Hamas, and not the people of Gaza”. Prior to the offer of incubators, the IDF spokesperson, R.-Adm. Daniel Hagari, said that the army would help evacuate babies from the hospital.
Both the UK and US appear to be stepping up pressure on Israel over al Shifa. The British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, urged Israel yesterday to “take all measures to protect innocent civilians, including at hospitals ... and allow more aid into Gaza”. At the same time US President Joe Biden said Gaza’s hospitals “must be protected” and that he hoped for “less intrusive action”.
Yet the White House subsequently walked those comments back. John Kirby, the National Security Council co-ordinator for strategic communications, later explained that Biden was not being critical of Israel but was rather discussing the difficulties that the IDF faces while operating in Gazan hospitals which are being used by Hamas as terror headquarters.
Whatever. The fact is that all such pressure on Israel by western governments gives Hamas and its backers every incentive to continue to fight, secure in the knowledge that the longer they hold out the greater the pressure on Israel from so-called allies such as the US, the UK and France to surrender. Every time the US or UK call upon Israel for “restraint” or for “humanitarian pauses” or “ceasefires,” they weaken Israel’s defence against genocidal barbarism and strengthen and incentivise the forces of evil arrayed against the Jewish state that’s fighting to prevent a second Holocaust.
There is no doubt that the laws of war permit Israel to attack the hospital if it is itself being used to mount attacks, provided Israel takes measures to avoid unnecessary loss of civilian life. There is also no doubt, however, that the Hamas-commandeered hospitals present an excruciating moral dilemma.
Israel doesn’t want to harm a single patient, doctor or nurse. At the same time, it cannot allow Hamas to use this infernal blackmail to enable it to continue its genocidal activities. Israel is clearly doing everything it can to avoid harming innocent patients and hospital staff. It is getting zero credit for doing so, and instead is being held to a totally different standard than its critics in the Biden administration, UK government and the rest of the west would ever apply to themselves in any wars.
Thus the scapegoating of the Jewish people, that has such an ancient and infernal history and is the signature motif of these morally degenerate times, steadily obliterates the horror and compassion that so briefly flickered in the west over the barbaric murder, torture, rape and beheadings of Israeli women, children and men, along with some foreign nationals, and leaves Israel once again to swing in the genocidal wind.
Let us hope, desperately, that the IDF is allowed to destroy Hamas at al Shifa, and that no more innocents are harmed.
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As British and other western countries are convulsed by massive, Muslim-dominated demonstrations exulting at the barbaric murder of 1400 Israelis on October 7, and as these mobs call for the destruction of Israel and the further murder of Jews, Muslim preachers in Britain’s mosques have been additionally stoking the fires of hatred against Israel and the Jewish people.
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