On a consequential Tuesday, the Biden administration officially corroborated longstanding Israeli claims regarding Hamas’s utilization of medical facilities for military endeavors. The Israel Defense Forces, encroaching upon Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, assert it harbors the primary command post of this terror group.
During a press briefing, John Kirby, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, elucidated, “We possess intelligence indicating that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad exploit certain hospitals in the Gaza Strip, including al-Shifa, and subterranean tunnels beneath them for concealing, supporting military operations, and holding hostages.”
Kirby underscored that the United States does not advocate for Israel to conduct aerial strikes on the medical center. “Hospitals and their occupants must be shielded,” insisted the White House spokesperson, emphasizing the presence of innocent individuals seeking refuge within, deserving immunity from becoming casualties in the crossfire.
This scenario accentuates the intricate military maneuvers Israel grapples with, as Hamas strategically embeds itself within civilian populations, Kirby pointed out. He emphasized that Hamas’s actions do not absolve Israel of its duty to safeguard civilians.
In response, Hamas vehemently criticized the White House, alleging a tacit approval for Israeli brutality against hospitals, aiming to dismantle Gaza’s healthcare system and displace Palestinians.
As the focal point of recent clashes, Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, purportedly concealing Hamas’s central operations hub in an underground bunker, faces intensified scrutiny. The IDF refutes claims of besieging the medical center, asserting one entrance remains open, collaborating with staff for the secure transit of patients and civilians.
The spotlight on Shifa and other hospitals intensifies pressure on Israel to enhance protection for Gazan civilians entangled in the conflict. Global leaders, including US and European officials, implore Israel to safeguard medical complexes, while the IDF continues to present evidence of Hamas exploiting hospitals systematically.
The United Nations estimates over 2,300 individuals—patients, staff, and displaced civilians—remain confined, unable to escape due to the fierce fighting. In a viral clip from Al Jazeera, a Gaza hospital patient alleges on-air that Hamas fighters hide among the sick. However, the correspondent swiftly moves away, muffling further remarks.
Accusations against Al Jazeera of exacerbating conflict tensions surface, given its ties to Hamas-backer Qatar. Amid these complexities, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari warns that hospitals in Gaza risk losing protected status under international law due to Hamas’s military co-optation.
Hagari highlights the strategic use of Shifa Hospital and points to other hospitals like Rantisi, Indonesian, and Sheikh Hamad, where Hamas allegedly deploys human shields. He reiterates the IDF’s offer of 37 incubators for Shifa Hospital, emphasizing preparedness for delivery.
Fuel shortages and logistical challenges cast uncertainty on the practicality of transferring Israeli incubators to Shifa Hospital. The IDF shares a recorded conversation outlining the offer, demonstrating commitment to humanitarian assistance.
Despite Hamas rejecting fuel assistance, Israel, under US pressure, agrees to allow UNRWA’s trucks to refuel in Gaza via Egypt’s Rafah crossing. This marks a shift in policy, addressing concerns about fuel diversion by Hamas. The UN agency, running low on fuel, emphasizes the urgent need to replenish supplies for lifesaving operations.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant asserts the IDF’s breakthrough against Hamas defenses in Gaza City, controlling the northern region and vowing to continue operations. He anticipates prolonged engagement, promising no sanctuary for Hamas until mission completion.
Amidst the backdrop of the conflict’s origins on October 7, with a Hamas-led onslaught, the toll on Gaza’s population remains a contentious subject. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry claims a high casualty figure, though verification challenges persist.
The situation underscores the intricate dynamics of warfare, where geopolitical, humanitarian, and military considerations intersect, shaping the narrative of a conflict with far-reaching consequences.