Israel Carries Out Raid on Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital
The Israeli military has conducted a raid on Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip, targeting Palestinian Hamas militants. The military urged the militants to surrender as they carried out the operation. The raid came after Israel informed officials in Gaza that they would be raiding the hospital complex.
Dr. Munir Al-Bursh, director-general of the Gaza health ministry, reported that Israeli forces had raided the western side of the medical complex. He stated that there were explosions and dust entering the areas where they were located, suggesting that an explosion had occurred inside the hospital. The deteriorating conditions in Al-Shifa have raised international concerns, with calls for a humanitarian ceasefire after five weeks of Israeli attacks on Gaza.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) released a statement explaining that the raid was based on intelligence information and operational necessity. The IDF claimed that their forces included medical teams and Arabic speakers who had undergone specific training to ensure no harm was caused to civilians. Israel has accused Hamas of using Al-Shifa as a command center and hiding military operations and hostages in tunnels beneath the hospital. Hamas denies these allegations.
The United States has supported Israel’s conclusions, stating that their own intelligence aligns with Israel’s claims. Israeli forces have been engaged in intense street battles with Hamas fighters before advancing into the center of Gaza City and surrounding Al-Shifa. Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas in retaliation for their cross-border assault into Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,200 people and over 240 hostages.
In the West Bank, Palestinian Authority Health Minister Mai Alkaila condemned Israel’s actions, describing them as a new crime against humanity. Alkaila held the occupation forces fully responsible for the lives of medical staff, patients, and displaced people in Al-Shifa. Hamas has reported that 650 patients and 5,000 to 7,000 civilians are trapped inside the hospital grounds, facing constant fire from Israeli snipers and drones. The hospital is experiencing shortages of fuel, water, and supplies, resulting in the deaths of 40 patients in recent days.
The situation at Al-Shifa has prompted UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. Medical officials in Gaza have reported over 11,000 confirmed deaths from Israeli strikes, with around 40% of them being children. Additionally, two-thirds of Gaza’s population has been displaced, with limited access to essential resources.
Israel’s actions at Al-Shifa have raised concerns about the interpretation of international laws protecting medical facilities and the thousands of displaced people seeking refuge there. While hospitals are protected buildings under international humanitarian law, allegations that Al-Shifa is being used for military purposes complicate the situation. Medical units engaged in harmful acts lose their special protection under international law if they ignore warnings to cease such activities.
Human Rights Watch has emphasized the importance of providing effective warnings before attacks, even if Hamas is proven to be using hospitals for military operations. Hospitals in Gaza are currently housing tens of thousands of displaced persons. Israel claims to have given Gaza authorities 12 hours to cease military activities within the hospital before conducting the raid.
The International Criminal Court prosecutor, Karim Khan, has stated that Israel must demonstrate the proper application of the principles of distinction, precaution, and proportionality when attacking protected sites such as hospitals. The burden of proving that the protective status is lost rests with those who initiate the attack.
The raid on Al-Shifa Hospital has intensified the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The international community continues to call for a ceasefire and the protection of civilians caught in the crossfire. The fate of Al-Shifa remains uncertain as the situation in Gaza worsens.