Israel redoubles the siege of Gaza health centers and surrounds the Indonesian hospital with tanks | International
The Israeli army continues to target hospitals in Gaza, centers that, due to their civil and health nature, are considered untouchable by the laws that set limits on wars: international humanitarian law. Israeli tanks surrounded the Indonesian hospital on Monday, in the north of the Strip, where snipers stationed nearby shot anyone who ventured to leave a facility that houses 700 people, according to the Qatari network Al Jazeera. At least 12 of them have died in heavy artillery bombardments against that medical complex, according to authorities in the Hamas-ruled Strip. Another sanatorium in northern Gaza, Al Awda, is also surrounded by Israeli forces, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa. Meanwhile, in parallel, Israel is redoubling its efforts to prove that these medical centers host Hamas infrastructure, which could exempt it from committing the war crime of attacking civilian targets.
The Indonesian hospital stands in Beit Lahia, on the outskirts of the largest Gazan refugee camp, Jabalia - one of the areas where the Israeli army has announced that it will extend its military offensive. The siege of the medical complex occurred without prior notice, several of its workers told Al Jazeera. These staff have described damage to their main operating room and the complete blackout of electricity, due to an Israeli attack on the generator. Of the 35 hospitals that the Strip had before the war, only four are still operating, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. The only one that remains open, according to this source, in the northern region is Al Ahli, whose emergency personnel reported on Saturday that the Israeli military had surrounded it for three days. The UN estimates, for its part, that there are nine sanatoriums that are still barely functioning.
With the tanks at the gates of the Indonesian hospital, Ashraf Al Qidreh, spokesperson for the Gaza Ministry of Health, has expressed to the France Presse agency his fear that, on this occasion, "the same thing that happened in Al Shifa" will be repeated. He was referring to the siege that began on Wednesday of the largest hospital in the Palestinian territory, from which thousands of people were evicted on Saturday by the Israeli army. A mission from the World Health Organization (WHO), authorized to enter the hospital that same day for an hour, described it as a “death zone” and noted the trace left by the explosions and gunshots.
The Israeli army justified its attack on Al Shifa with the argument that its basement housed a Hamas command center, an accusation analogous to the one it now directs against the Indonesian hospital, which it claims is in turn used by the fundamentalist movement. for military purposes. The Israeli military establishment defends that beneath its operating rooms there is a network of Hamas underground tunnels, a claim denied by the organization that manages the hospital, the Emergency Medical Rescue Committee, and by Indonesia, which finances it. That country's Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi, has described the hospital siege as a “clear violation of international humanitarian law.”
No conclusive evidence
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The day after evicting Al Shifa, the Israeli army released a video showing what a military statement defines as a “fortified terrorist tunnel discovered under the hospital complex.” In these unclear images nothing can be seen that would allow the subway to be linked to Hamas. Nor is another recording conclusive in which two of the 240 kidnapped on October 7 by Hamas in Israel are seen being introduced into the hospital complex, one of them injured on a stretcher.
OPERATIONAL UPDATE: IDF and ISA forces revealed a significant 55-meter-long terrorist tunnel, 10 meters beneath the Shifa Hospital complex during an intelligence-based operation.
The tunnel entrance contains various defense mechanisms, such as a blast-proof door and a firing… pic.twitter.com/tU4J6BD4ZG
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) November 19, 2023
These videos, the images of weapons arranged on a table, or even a simple computer with a stack of CDs next to it, aim to demonstrate that Al Shifa was used for military purposes. If the Israeli army were to succeed, the hospital could lose the status of a civilian target with enhanced protection that international humanitarian law grants to health centers. This would exempt Israel from committing several of the war crimes contained in the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their 1977 additional protocols.
So far that objective has not been achieved. Israel has failed to justify the adjective “surgical” that it attributes to its war in Gaza or its attacks on hospitals and schools where hundreds of thousands of displaced people take refuge. At least 13,000 people, including 5,500 children, according to the Hamas government in Gaza, have perished in six weeks of fighting under bombs and rubble.
On the contrary, the number of images and testimonies documenting attacks on innocent children such as young minors is overwhelming. Photographs such as those of the 31 premature babies evacuated from the Al Shifa hospital in Rafah — 28 of them are already in Egypt — seriously ill after spending several days outside the incubators, deal a serious blow to Israel's official version. This Monday, UN Secretary General António Guterres declared that the killing of children in Gaza since the war between Israel and Hamas began “is unprecedented” in any conflict since he took office in 2017. Guterres responded thus to a question about whether the weekend attacks on two schools of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), in which dozens of displaced people died, constitute war crimes.
Photographs of those infants curled up together in a bed, and statements such as that of the UN Secretary General compromise Israel's position in the international community. Even in the face of its champion, the United States, whose support has acquired barely perceptible nuances and only in relation to the entry of humanitarian aid and Washington's refusal to endorse a permanent Israeli occupation of Gaza.
Despite this homeopathic censorship, US support for Israel remains strong, even regarding the only internal issue that puts Benjamin Netanyahu's Government in immediate trouble: the fate of the 240 hostages in the hands of Hamas. This Monday, President Joe Biden expressed his hope that Israel will conclude the pact with Hamas to free them that Qatar, the country that has financed the fundamentalist movement for years, has been mediating. “I believe that an agreement will be reached soon on the release of hostages in Gaza,” Biden said. This commitment would relax the internal pressure suffered by the Netanyahu Government, questioned by the families of these captives, who reproach it for its indifference towards the hostages. The Israeli Government is also divided between those in favor of expanding the offensive so that Hamas lowers its claims and those who fear wasting the opportunity and that other hostages will die in the bombings, according to the newspaper. Haaretz. It would consist of the release of between 50 and 70 mothers and children, in exchange for between three and five days of humanitarian pause, and the release of 150 Palestinian minors and women.
For his part, the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, will visit Israel and Palestine this Thursday, November 23, to meet with Netanyahu, and with the president of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmud Abbas, according to sources from the Secretary of State for Communication.
A Jordanian hospital
This Monday, for the first time since the start of the fighting, a field hospital has been authorized to enter the Strip through Rafah, reported Mohammed Zaqout, general director of hospitals in Gaza, quoted by Reuters. Zaqout has said that the field hospital, sent by Jordan, will be set up in the southern city of Khan Yunis. In Gaza there are no less than 30,000 injured, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. Many, seriously.
Meanwhile, early this Monday, another 14 people have added to those death tolls that no longer have many precedents. Six weeks of war in Gaza have killed more people – 13,000 – than the around 12,000 who died in the four years that the siege of Sarajevo lasted, between 1992 and 1996. These 14 new victims of Israeli bombings have perished in an airstrike against a residential building in Rafah, in the south.
Doaa Ulyan, 33, was with her two children, eight and 10, respectively, when the windows of the shelter where she was trying to find safety burst into the air this Monday morning due to that bombing, she explains. by WhatsApp from Rafah. “I couldn't go outside to look. My children were crying, terrified by the noise. Besides, I can't stand watching the scenes we see here anymore.”
Ulyan just wants, he explains, “to escape from Gaza.” She has a legal visa for Spain, where her entire family lives, but her children and her husband do not, and the Spanish Consulate in Jerusalem has told her that she cannot help her. “I just want you to help me cross the border with my children. Sometimes it takes us two days to find some bread for the children. Nobody knows what it's like to be terrified and have your children cry from hunger and not having food to give them. This is not life,” she says through tears. She then tells that she no longer has a home to return to. An Israeli bombing of Gaza City completely devastated it.
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