On Tuesday, October 17, it was reported that an Israeli airstrike was carried out against the al-Ahli Hospital in the besieged Gaza Strip, killing at least 500 people and sparking a public out-roar across the Middle East. After realizing the sheer scope of the bloody massacre that was carried out, the Israeli government instantly took to their social media accounts, before later releasing audio and video footage in an attempt to blame the strike on Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). The information released has worked to convince some Western audiences and has been carried by US President Joe Biden himself. So, were the original reports from eye witnesses and international media incorrect, or does Israel have an agenda in distancing itself from the massacre?
In order to properly interrogate Israel’s counterclaims, first we must set the relevant context. We now hear, mainly from Western politicians and pro-Israel commentators, that Israel would have no incentive to strike such a civilian target and that there is no clear evidence for what truly happened. Some also say that the claims that Israel carried out the massacre are all sourced from Hamas. This, before getting to any actual evidence, we must first address.
“Israel wouldn’t do this… It has no reason”
To begin with, the Israeli military had directly threatened 22 hospitals inside the Gaza strip in the days leading up to the attack on the al-Ahli, in what the World Health Organisation (WHO) had branded a “death sentence”. Calls were received from the hospitals, warning them to evacuate or face the consequences, as Israel informed them that they intended to strike them as legitimate targets. There has been no intelligence information presented to suggest that any military presence exists at the hospitals, nor is it feasible for the hospitals to evacuate, not least of which is because there are wounded patients inside who cannot be abandoned, along with families who have decided to take shelter at the hospitals after their homes no longer remained safe or were destroyed due to Israeli bombing.
Hospital director surrounded by bodies says Israel said we warned you yesterday with 2 bombs why didnt you evacuate?
If you can watch this & still justify it
Explain it away
Blame it on Hamas
I’m afraid you have lost your humanity
— Dr Ahmad Malik (@DocAhmadMalik) October 18, 2023
So far, during Israel’s war against the Gaza Strip, there has not been a single high-value military target that has been struck inside the besieged coastal enclave and the Israeli government has made it clear that they are working their war in phases. We know that Israel has not struck any high value military targets, because the Israeli military are yet to even announce that they have achieved this, while we have no reports from within Gaza indicating this either. In an interview on CNN, an Israeli soldier, Betzal Taljah, clearly states that “this is not just a war with Hamas, the war [is] with all the civilians“, which aligns with the targets that have been reportedly hit in Gaza.
“I tried to correct you.. the war is not just with Hamas…the war is with all the civilians..”
Israeli soldier Betzal Taljah is given space to correct a CNN presenter that Israel’s war in Gaza is in fact against civilians.pic.twitter.com/8d9h04uLTR
— Lowkey (@Lowkey0nline) October 16, 2023
“These animals can no longer live.”
Ezra Yachin, a 95-year-old Israeli army reservist, is seen inciting “every Jew with a weapon” to kill Palestinians and “erase the memory of them” pic.twitter.com/LUQs0XoR5U
— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) October 13, 2023
However, some may say that Betzal Taljah doesn’t represent the whole Israeli military or he wasn’t supposed to say this. So, in this case, we must go further. Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stated from the onset of the military operation that the war will take as long as is needed to finish Hamas. On Wednesday, Israeli Minister Benny Gantz — who is part of the emergency war government — said that the war could take months. We then need only pair this with what Israel has done in the Gaza Strip, namely through cutting off all humanitarian aid from entering the occupied territory; including clean water, food and medical supplies. Gaza is currently cut off from aid, water and power, while 1.1 million people have been made homeless due to the Israeli attacks on civilian infrastructure and the UN shelters are currently at full capacity. Although Israel has been pressured to accept allowing limited aid in, from the Egyptian border side, it has repeatedly prevented this and even bombed the Rafah border crossing after announcing on two separate days that the aid convoys would be allowed to cross at 9am.
Even the apartheid regime mouthpiece CNN says the objective is to starve and dehydrate the Palestinian people and prevent access to medicine in order to force them into submission.
When the West wants an excuse to commit genocide, they just say, “This is a war.” pic.twitter.com/U5L6H8PTpT
— Seyed Mohammad Marandi (@s_m_marandi) October 15, 2023
Between October 7 and October 18, the WHO confirmed 136 Israeli attacks on healthcare, of which 74 impacted transport (ambulances), 98 impacted medical personnel and 63 impacted patients, while 41 healthcare facilities were attacked. When commentators like Ben Shapiro claim that Hamas is making all these claims, it is important to understand that the above figures are not from the Gaza Health Ministry, they are independently verified. Also, when we hear that “Hamas claims”, or “Palestinians say”, we are not told which Palestinians or what they mean by Hamas. Hamas is the governing force inside the Gaza Strip, which means that they control the Health Ministry, however, the head of the Health Ministry is fully qualified to assume his position and is not an armed combatant, nor are the journalists and eye witnesses who all testify to witnessing an Israeli airstrike at al-Ahli hospital.
We, as @UNRWA, are mourning the loss of 14 colleagues.
At least 400,000 people are now displaced in our schools & buildings in📍#Gaza
Old people, children, pregnant women, people with disabilities are just being deprived of their basic human dignity. This is a total disgrace. pic.twitter.com/JWBfx3wMpx
— UNRWA (@UNRWA) October 15, 2023
From the public statements of Israeli officials to their actions on the ground, it is clear that civilians are a valid target for Israel. Yet it would be irresponsible to simply stop there, and since there are no human rights reports that can claim to have looked at the entire scope of the attacks, we must defer to Israel’s history of assaults on Gaza. As a sample of Israel’s track record, here is a UN human rights report that accuses Israel of directly targeting and killing medical workers in Gaza during non-violent protests in 2018, and here is a UN inquiry into war crimes committed by Israeli forces, in 2014, where credible evidence is presented of Israel bombing hospitals in the besieged coastal territory. There are many more reports, from the 2012 attack, the 2021 attack, the 2022 attack, the 2008/9 attack, and other assaults on Gaza, which also document attacks on civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, UN facilities, and the list goes on, but the two reports above are perhaps some of the most striking reports that detail such atrocities.
On the question of “would Israel do this in Gaza”, the answer is clearly yes, however, we cannot yet ascertain the evidence that supports the specific reason why Israel would choose to have attacked the Al-Ahli hospital….