Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with ISRAEL; fight against those who fight against ISRAEL!
Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for ISRAEL'S help! Draw the spear and javelin against ISRAEL'S pursuers!
Tuesday, November 14, 2023
Morning Jolt: Everything You Need to Know about Hamas’s Hospital Operations
The decision before Israel is to attack Hamas targets under the hospital while attempting to avoid
On the menu today: everything we know about Hamas operations around and underneath the hospitals in the Gaza Strip, the difficult choices facing the Israel Defense Forces, and how President Biden is like your spouse telling you to "be careful" when you're up on the roof trying to put up the Christmas lights.
Anybody Want to Hold Hamas Responsible for Its Deliberate Decisions, or Nah?
What would you like Israel to do about the Hamas operations under the Al-Shifa hospital complex and other hospitals in the Gaza Strip?
The decision before Israel is to either attack the Hamas targets underneath hospitals while attempting to avoid civilian casualties, or to leave the Hamas operations intact. Attack, and you run the risk of higher Palestinian civilian casualties, even greater outrage on the world stage, and even more propaganda victories for Hamas, painting the Israelis as cruel monsters. Hold back, and Hamas gets to keep more of its men and arms safely in place to fight another day and plot more massacres.
At Shifa Hospital on Monday, armed Hamas militants in civilian clothes roved the halls. Asked their function, they said they were providing security. But there was internal bloodletting under way.
In the fourth-floor orthopedic section, a woman in her late twenties asked a militant to let her see Saleh Hajoj, her 32-year-old husband. She was turned away and left the hospital. Fifteen minutes later, Hajoj was carried out of his room by young men pretending to transfer him to another hospital section. As he lay on the stretcher, he was shot in the left side of the head. A bit of brain emerged on the other side of his skull.
Hajoj, like five others who were killed at the hospital in this way in the previous 24 hours, was accused of collaboration with Israel. He had been in the central prison awaiting trial by Hamas judges, and when Israel destroyed the prison on Sunday he and the others were transferred to the hospital. But their trials were short-circuited.
Another account from El-Khodary in 2009 described a young Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighter demanding he be treated first, ahead of civilians, even if their injuries were more severe:
A car arrived with more patients. One was a 21-year-old man with shrapnel in his left leg who demanded quick treatment. He turned out to be a militant with Islamic Jihad. He was smiling a big smile.
"Hurry, I must get back so I can keep fighting," he told the doctors.
He was told that there were more serious cases than his, that he needed to wait. But he insisted. "We are fighting the Israelis," he said. "When we fire we run, but they hit back so fast. We run into the houses to get away." He continued smiling.
"Why are you so happy?" this reporter asked. "Look around you."
A girl who looked about 18 screamed as a surgeon removed shrapnel from her leg. An elderly man was soaked in blood. A baby a few weeks old and slightly wounded looked around helplessly. A man lay with parts of his brain coming out. His family wailed at his side.
"Don't you see that these people are hurting?" the militant was asked.
"But I am from the people, too," he said, his smile incandescent. "They lost their loved ones as martyrs. They should be happy. I want to be a martyr, too."
Like everything else in the Gaza Strip, it appears that the hospital's operations were intertwined with Hamas — a deliberate strategic choice to make the line between military operations and innocent civilians as blurry as possible.
Here is the account from CNN's Nic Robertson, embedded with the IDF as it investigated another hospital in the northern part of Gaza city, the Al-Rantisi children's hospital:
The Israeli military's focus on hospitals in Gaza is growing more intense with a spokesperson inviting news media to visit a medical center for children on Monday, where he alleged parts of the basement had been a Hamas "command and control center" and may have been used to hold hostages.
A CNN team embedded with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and was shown guns and explosives in one room located beneath Al-Rantisi children's hospital on Monday, which IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari termed as an "armory."
He also pointed to a chair with a rope next to it and a piece of women's clothing, which he said would be tested for DNA, and a makeshift toilet.
The implication is that this is one of the spots where Israeli and/or international hostages were being held. Separately, the IDF tweeted, "Beneath the Rantisi Hospital in Gaza, IDF forces found a room where Israeli hostages are believed to have been held. The calendar found in the room marked the days since October 7 Massacre with the title "Operation Al-Aqsa Flood", Hamas' name for their horrific attack on Israel."
If you want the IDF version of the footage, you can find it here; Hagari points to the captured explosives, vests with explosives for suicide attacks, hand grenades, Kalashnikov-style rifles, and rocket-propelled grenades.
"People shooting RPGs from hospitals! This is Hamas! Firing RPGs from hospitals! The world has to understand who Israel is fighting against!" Hagari fumes.
CNN was shown a shaft, about 200 meters away from Al-Rantisi, which Hagari claimed was located next to a Hamas commander's house and also a school.
Wires leading into the shaft provided power to the tunnel from solar panels fixed onto the roof of the Hamas commander's house, he also said.
"We [put] a robot inside the tunnel and the robot saw a massive door, a door that is in the direction of the hospital," Hagari said.
In Robertson's report, he kneels by the four rather old-looking, likely Kalashnikov-style rifles lined up on the floor and notes, "These guns alone have potentially huge implications for Gaza's hospitals and Israel's apparent push to take control of them. The International Committee for the Red Cross say that hospitals are given special protection under international humanitarian law during a time of war. But if militants store weapons there, or use them as a base of fire, then that protection falls away."
Hagari and the IDF forces also showcased a motorcycle found in the basement, with a bullet hole in it, contending it is one of the motorcycles used in the October 7 massacre.
By the way, I know it's de rigueur to bash CNN in conservative circles, but let's acknowledge that Robertson is sticking his neck out by reporting from an active war zone, with the IDF and Hamas fighting just down the street, letting us see the war-torn landscape and inside the hospital. Robertson agreed to IDF rules to not show the faces of Israeli soldiers or any sensitive military equipment. CNN says the IDF did not have any editorial control over what Robertson and his camera crew reported. Much like Clarissa Ward's excellent reporting from the ground in Afghanistan and Ukraine, this is what CNN does best. CNN deserves a lot of the criticism it gets, but when there's a foreign crisis going on somewhere else in the world, CNN brings out its A-game.
Have you ever tried to do something mildly dangerous — standing on a high ladder, putting up the Christmas lights on your roof, or something like that — and your spouse tells you, "Be careful"? As if you were not being careful already, and needed to be reminded of the risks that you're extremely aware of, because you're the one actually up there and trying not to fall?
Q: The hospitals in Gaza — have you expressed any specific concerns to Israel on that, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know I have not been reluctant in expressing my concerns what's going on. And it is my hope and expectation that there will be less intrusive action relative to the hospital. We're in contact, and we're — with — with the Israelis.
Also, there is an effort to take this pause to deal the release of prisoners, and that's being negotiated as well with — the Qataris are engaged and – So, I remain somewhat hopeful. But the hospital must be protected.
Hey, that's a hospital, fellas! Be less intrusive and more careful! Gee, thanks, Mr. President. What would we ever do without you?
Number one, you heard Jake Sullivan on TV yesterday say that we don't want to see hospitals be the subject of crossfire. We want to see the civilians who are sheltering in hospitals, the civilians who are being treated in hospitals, including babies in hospitals, be protected. Civilians are — hospitals are legitimate civilian infrastructure; they should be protected. At the same time, I would say Hamas continues to use hospitals as locations for its command posts. So this is — we talk about difficult issues; this is a very difficult issue.
We don't want to see civilians caught in the crossfire. We would love to see Hamas vacate the hospitals that it's using command posts immediately. We would love to see all the people that are calling for Israel to take steps to protect hospitals call for Hamas to vacate the hospitals, and stop using civilians as human shields. We would love to see Hamas take some of the fuel reserves it's sitting on and use that to supply hospitals in northern Gaza. We would love to see Hamas have taken the fuel that Israel offered it yesterday — that they declined — for use at al‑Shifa Hospital. So, it's a very difficult situation. And I would say, as a principle ––I'll just restate what I said at the top — we do not want to see civilians caught in the crossfire.
JAKE SULLIVAN: Well, Margaret, without getting into intelligence information, we can just look at the open-source reporting that Hamas is using hospitals, as it uses many other civilian facilities, for command and control, for weapons storage, to house its fighters. And this is a violation of the laws of war.
That being said, Margaret, the United States does not want to see firefights in hospitals, where innocent people, patients receiving medical care are caught in the crossfire. And we've had active consultations with the Israeli Defense Forces on this.
Does Sullivan think the IDF wants to have a firefight in a hospital?
ADDENDUM:Over in that other Washington publication I write for, I look at the presidential campaign of Tim Scott and how it was a worthy experiment that failed, a demonstration that today's Republican Party does not want sunny optimism or a serious effort to bring jobs to economically distressed communities. Roughly half of today's Republican Party apparently loves the idea of a second term of Donald Trump calling for "vengeance" upon his enemies.
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