November 21, 2023 | Flash Brief

Hamas Using Hospital as Cover for Attacks

November 21, 2023 | Flash Brief

Hamas Using Hospital as Cover for Attacks

Latest Developments

Israeli forces and Hamas fighters clashed on November 20 near a hospital next to the Gazan city of Jabalia, which has seen fierce fighting in recent days. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry claimed that Israeli tank fire killed 12 Palestinians at the medical facility, known as the Indonesian Hospital because it is funded by Jakarta. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) denied this claim. After “terrorists opened fire from within the Indonesian Hospital,” Israeli “troops directly targeted the specific source of enemy fire” but launched no shells at the hospital, the IDF told Reuters.

Expert Analysis

“Hamas has been building a terror fortress in Gaza for almost two decades. Hamas pervades every aspect of Gaza: the government, schools, hospitals, mosques, international organizations, and media. The IDF did not choose these battlefields. Hamas did.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

“Despite its shocking nature, it is not surprising that Hamas and other terrorist organizations exploit hospitals in the Gaza Strip as an essential component of their military operations. It is imperative to acknowledge that Hamas and its allies take advantage of any viable resources at their disposal — even exploiting sick and injured Palestinians — to shield themselves and conduct attacks against Israeli targets.” —Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Hamas’s Extensive Use of Hospitals to Shield Terror Operations

Earlier in November, the IDF published information on Hamas’s extensive use of hospitals, including the Indonesian Hospital, as cover for terror activity. An Israeli military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, released satellite imagery and other intelligence indicating Hamas had built a tunnel network under the hospital and had stationed rocket launchers a few dozen meters away. Hagari also shared audio in which Hamas officials allegedly acknowledge using fuel reserves belonging to the hospital.

Last week, Israeli forces found an unspecified amount of weaponry in Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s biggest medical facility. The IDF also said it uncovered “concrete evidence that Hamas terrorists used the Shifa hospital as a terror headquarters.” Israel has warned for years that Hamas leaders were exploiting the hospital’s protected status by digging their main bunker and tunnel network below the facility. The IDF also found weapons on November 13 in the basement of Rantisi Hospital, which is north of Gaza City.

Hamas and Human Shields

Iran-backed terrorist groups, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah, often operate from within highly populated areas, using the possibility of civilian casualties to shield their fighters and weapons from lawful attack. The use of human shields violates international law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention and customary international law. During the May 2021 Gaza conflict, several outside observers publicly reported that Hamas used civilians as human shields for its weapons and fighters. The Associated Press found, “Palestinian fighters are clearly operating in built-up residential areas and have positioned tunnels, rocket launchers and command and control infrastructure near schools, mosques, and homes.”

Hamas Uses Gaza Hospital as Headquarters,” FDD Flash Brief

What do we know about hospitals in north Gaza? – explainer,” by Seth J. Frantzman

Israel Offers Incubators for Gaza’s Shifa Hospital,” FDD Flash Brief


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