After heavy attacks in the area surrounding Gaza City's Al Shifa Hospital, the Israeli military reportedly stormed the hospital on Tuesday, 14 November, claiming that it is carrying out a "precise and targeted operation" against Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Calling it a "targeted operation" based on Israeli and US intelligence, Israel accused Hamas of using the hospital as a base, a claim rejected by Hamas. Importantly, no evidence supporting the claim has been presented.
Hours before Israel's raid, the United States National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby asserted that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad stored weapons in the hospital and were prepared to respond to an Israeli military operation against the facility, the Financial Times reported.
Kirby mentioned that Hamas was using hospitals, including al-Shifa, and tunnels underneath them to hold hostages. However, he clarified that the United States did not endorse striking a hospital from the air and did not want a firefight in a hospital where innocent and vulnerable people sought medical care, the report added.
Dozens of Israeli soldiers entered the facility, with tanks stationed in the yard, raising concerns due to the presence of close to 7,500 Palestinians, including patients, doctors, and displaced persons, inside the hospital, according to Al Jazeera.
Under pressure from Israeli forces surrounding the hospital, staff were compelled to bury 179 bodies in a makeshift "mass grave" in the hospital's courtyard, the hospital's Director Mohammad Abu Salmiya said in a statement to AFP. The situation has led to the tragic deaths of seven infants and 29 intensive care patients since the hospital ceased admitting new patients, the report added.
Aid agencies and hospital staff have said that the situation is already "catastrophic" with medical procedures taking place without anesthetic materials, families lacking food or water, and the smell of decomposing bodies filling the air.
An international law expert at Queen’s University in Canada, Ardi Imseis, believes that Israel holds the burden to “produce evidence” and prove its claims of the hospital being used as a Hamas base.
Imseis said, “The object of the attack is a civilian object. Until such time that the Israelis provide proof that it has been converted into a military object, the civilian nature of the object does not change,”