About 2,500 wounded and displaced Palestinians are at the mercy of the invading troops as concerns grow that the Israeli army is preparing an ‘artificial scene’ inside the hospital
Gaza’s largest medical complex, Al-Shifa Hospital, fell under the control of the Israeli army on 15 November following an overnight raid that saw dozens of troops storm the hospital based on Israeli and US intelligence that alleged the complex houses a “Hamas command center.”
“Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) 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,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday night, in comments that preceded the brutal raid on the besieged medical complex.
Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh made similar comments before the raid, claiming that Washington obtained “newly declassified intelligence” showing Gaza resistance factions use hospitals as a “way to conceal and support their military operations and hold hostages.”
Neither US official provided evidence to back their claims, citing simply a “variety” of intelligence sourcing to back up the assertion.
“Since last night, it’s been a nightmare that cannot be imagined […] Before storming the compound, they targeted all the floors, the generators, the communications unit, and now we can have no contact with the outside world,” Palestinian journalist Jihad Abu Shanab, who is inside the Al-Shifa compound, told Al-Jazeera on Wednesday morning.
“[The Israelis] have told everyone to go up a floor, then go to a lower floor for investigation, and then they are forced to be interrogated, and they have seen a lot of humiliation,” he added.
The Qatari news agency also cites sources saying “about 30 people [were] taken outside of the building, stripped of their clothes. They are in the courtyard of the hospital, blindfolded, surrounded by three tanks. There is one tank right at the front of the emergency department targeting any moving object inside these buildings.”
Sources add that the Israeli tanks surrounding the hospital “blew up a warehouse of medicines and medical devices.”
According to a statement by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, Israel has turned Al-Shifa Hospital into a center for “detention and torture.” The monitor also expressed concerns that patients, medical staff, and refugees will be executed as sporadic gunfire continues inside the complex.
“Israeli allegations about the use of the Al-Shifa Medical Complex for military purposes do not need all these long hours of searching and raiding. Therefore, there are concerns that the army may be creating an artificial scene for a new play,” Rami Abdu, the Chairman of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, said on Wednesday.
Staff inside the hospital report that the Israeli army has continued its attacks against the hospital, bombing several sections while live fire can be heard inside the complex.
“Israeli drones are shooting anything moving inside the hospital,” the head of the orthopedics department told Al-Alam Radio.
Videos shared online showed medical staff and volunteers transferring babies from one ward in Al-Shifa to another to protect them from the Israeli raid.
According to Israeli media, the invading troops discovered “weapons and Hamas assets” inside the hospital. Nonetheless, Tel Aviv claims there is “no indication” of Israeli captives held inside the complex, as they previously claimed.
“We hold the occupation [Israel] and President Biden wholly responsible for the assault on Al-Shifa medical complex,” Hamas said in a statement early on Wednesday.
“The adoption by the White House and the Pentagon of the occupation’s false claim that the resistance is using Al-Shifa medical complex for military ends has given the green light to the occupation to commit more massacres against civilians,” the statement added.