Israeli army carries out operation in Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital

Events are accelerating in the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, at the heart of all attention for several days in the conflict between Israel and Hamas

Israeli army carries out operation in Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital

Events are accelerating in the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, at the heart of all attention for several days in the conflict between Israel and Hamas. The Israeli army announced early Wednesday, November 15, that it was carrying out “a precise and targeted operation” against the Palestinian movement “in a specific area” of the largest hospital complex in the Gaza Strip where thousands of people are crowded together. But the places are also considered a strategic Hamas military site by Israel and the United States. “We call on all Hamas terrorists present in the hospital to surrender,” the Israeli army urged in its message announcing the operation.

“I am in the hospital and I see dozens of soldiers and commandos in the emergency room and at the reception and there are tanks that have entered the hospital complex,” he told Agence France- Press (AFP), Youssef Abul Reesh, a senior official in the Hamas government's health ministry, calling on the United Nations and the international community to intervene "immediately" to put an end to this operation.

A spokesperson for the Gaza health ministry told Al Jazeera that Israeli forces were searching the hospital basement.

“Hospitals and patients must be protected,” reminds Washington

In a report released Monday, Israel estimated that the hospital housed one of Hamas's "headquarters." The White House also accused, on Tuesday, the Islamist movement, on the basis of American intelligence, of using hospitals in Gaza for military operations, and in particular that of Al-Shifa. After the announcement of the Israeli operation there, Hamas accused Joe Biden of being, with Israel, “entirely responsible”.

“The White House and Pentagon's embrace of the occupation's false narrative that the resistance is using the Al-Shifa Medical Complex for military purposes has given the occupation a green light to commit more massacres against civilians “, Hamas had already affirmed on Tuesday.

Asked about the ongoing operation, a White House National Security Council spokesperson told AFP that “hospitals and patients must be protected.” “As we have said before, we do not support airstrikes against a hospital and we do not want to see an exchange of fire in a hospital where innocent, destitute, sick people seeking treatment are taken between two fires,” he said.

The Israeli army said, for its part, that it had "medical teams and Arabic-speaking people on site who have been trained specifically for this sensitive and complex environment, with the aim of ensuring that no harm is caused to the civilians used." by Hamas as human shields”.

An operation that does not violate international law, according to Israel

Several thousand people, sick, staff and civilians displaced by the war that has raged since October 7, crowded onto the site of Al-Shifa hospital, which was surrounded by the Israeli army.

The hospital director said at least “179 bodies” were buried in a mass grave on Tuesday. “There are bodies littering the aisles of the hospital complex and the cold rooms of the morgues are no longer supplied” with electricity, Mohammed Abou Salmiya told AFP, before the Israeli operation.

During the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip said it had been notified by the Israeli army of its intention to carry out an operation in the establishment. “We are warning of a massacre at the hospital,” he warned.

For Israel, this operation in a hospital does not violate international law. “Over the past few weeks, we have repeatedly indicated that Hamas's continued use of Al-Shifa Hospital for military purposes will lead to the end of its protection under international law,” said Hamas. spokesman for the Israeli army, Daniel Hagari, shortly before the operation. The Israeli army said it had “informed the relevant authorities in Gaza that all military activities within the hospital were to cease within twelve hours,” but that this “unfortunately was not the case.”