Israeli Military Launches Operation Against Alleged Hamas Presence in Gaza’s Largest Hospital

Satellite images show tanks gathered outside the hospital (left) and buildings on fire in Gaza City (right). Picture: Planet Labs

In a significant development in the ongoing conflict in Gaza, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has launched a targeted operation against Dar Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest medical complex and emergency facility. The IDF claims that the hospital is being used as a command post by the Palestinian Hamas’ terrorist wing.

Satellite photos taken in the past few hours reveal a significant deployment of Israeli tanks and armored vehicles around the perimeter of the hospital. The IDF contends that the hospital is hiding underground command centers beneath thousands of civilians seeking medical care and shelter.

The director of Al-Shifa Hospital reported that staff and patients are taking cover in hallways amid heavy gunfire from the streets outside. The hospital has been under siege for four days, lacking electricity and water supplies. Medical procedures are reportedly taking place without anesthesia due to the ongoing conflict.

The IDF issued an ultimatum, urging Hamas terrorists allegedly hiding within the hospital to surrender. The military claims to have entered the compound based on intelligence information and operational necessity, emphasizing a precise and targeted operation against Hamas in the specified area.

The United Nations estimates that over 2,300 individuals, including patients, staff, and displaced civilians, are trapped inside the hospital. Despite warnings from the United States and others to protect the hospital, the IDF pressed forward with its operation.

The IDF accuses Hamas of using hospitals in the Gaza Strip, including Al-Shifa, and tunnels beneath them to conceal and support military operations, branding such actions as war crimes. The United States Pentagon supports these allegations, condemning the use of hospitals for military purposes.

The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concern over the deteriorating situation, stating that the hospital is no longer functioning as a medical facility. The IDF’s actions have sparked criticism for potentially violating the laws of war, with appeals for a clear warning before major attacks to minimize civilian casualties.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu defended the operation, asserting that Hamas, not Israel, should be held accountable for committing a double war crime—targeting civilians while hiding behind them. He called for international support against what he termed as “Hamas barbarism.”

The outcome of the battle for Dar Al-Shifa Hospital is expected to have significant implications for both the ongoing conflict and Israel’s adherence to international humanitarian laws. As the situation unfolds, the global community closely watches the developments in this critical and sensitive operation.