The IOF found no presence of captives inside Al-Shifa.
Qatar called for an “urgent” investigation into Israel’s targeting of hospitals in Gaza on Wednesday after the occupation forces raided the strip’s biggest hospital complex, Al-Shifa Hospital.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs demands an urgent international investigation, including the dispatch of independent UN investigators to investigate the facts of targeting hospitals by the Israeli occupation army,” Qatar’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
In the same statement, the Gulf state also strongly condemned the Israeli occupation forces’ (IOF) storming of the Al-Shifa.
“Qatar condemns in the strongest terms the Israeli occupation forces’ storming of Al-Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza, which led to the death of a number of patients, including children. It also considers this a war crime and a flagrant violation of international laws and agreements, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention,” the Foreign Ministry’s statement said.
For weeks, Israel has alleged that Hamas had operated from tunnels underneath the hospital and that Hamas fighters use the premises as a command post.
Ahmed Mokhallalati, a surgeon at Al-Shifa, told Al Jazeera during the Israeli raid that he witnessed tanks and bulldozers at the medical complex and heard heavy firing and explosions.
The hospital has thousands of patients, including at least 39 premature babies wholly dependent on incubators, three of whom have died after the hospital ran out of fuel and could no longer power their incubators. The Palestinian Health Ministry estimated that 5,000 to 7,000 displaced people sought shelter in the hospital.
The Qatari foreign ministry stressed that the Israeli raid constituted a “war crime” and “an extension of the occupation’s approach to targeting hospitals, schools and population centres in Gaza Strip.”
The IOF storming of the hospital came amid Israel’s genocide in Gaza that has continued without concrete international steps to permanently end it.
Since the start of the war on October 7, Israel has killed more than 11,300 Palestinians, including 4,710 children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, who has not been able to obtain an accurate count of the new death toll due to communication issues with Al-Shifa caused by the siege.
The Qatari foreign ministry called on the international community “to take urgent action to hold Israel accountable and deter it from committing more crimes against civilians” while protecting displaced people at Al-Shifa.
The Qatari statement further warned that the international silence towards “the crimes against humanity committed by the occupation against the Palestinian people will encourage Israel to continue committing more atrocities.”
In turn, this would “expand the circle of anger and violence, lead to further escalation and instability in the region, and lead to the erosion of trust in the international community and its organisations.”
The hospital has been a refuge for thousands of Palestinians, and not just patients. For weeks, Gaza’s largest hospital has been a focal centre for journalists covering the humanitarian conditions on the ground.
It has also hosted press conferences by officials and doctors who have pleaded for global assistance. In one harrowing press conference, doctors delivered a statement while surrounded by corpses and holding a dead child.
Thousands, including journalists, have been forced into displacement towards the south of Gaza due to Israeli evacuation orders and total destruction of the north.
Israel comes up empty-handed with evidence
The hospital has been among Israel’s central targets, which first alleged that tunnels are directly underneath the hospital and then alleging that the premises are actually a Hamas command post.
But the “evidence” that Israel has distributed to prove these claims have been repeatedly debunked by social media users and major organizations alike, including Human Rights Watch.
Israel said it also attempted to search for hostages taken by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attack at Al-Shifa, but that it ultimately found “no signs of Israeli hostages,”
Israel’s military radio confirmed there are “no signs of Israeli hostages at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza after the military entered the facility,” Anadolu Agency reported.
It later published videos and pictures of weapons lined up and bulletproof vests at Al-Shifa, claiming they belonged to Hamas.
Social media users were quick to mobilise to debunk Israel’s apparent PR stunt.
“I’m baffled as to why Hamas keeps ‘leaving behind’ guns for the Israeli military to ‘find’ as evidence for their presence under hospitals! Oh yea, leave the gun, take the cannolis,” Palestinian author Marwan Bishara said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
Another X user said: “Israel doing the proud cop laying out their finds, and it’s 10 guns and some bullets. They bombed a hospital, found no hostages inside, no Hamas HQ, and put 10 guns on the ground.”
Others have also questioned the presence of guns inside MRI machines, pointing that weapons or metallic items cannot be stored in the medical machine, given that it could activate the ammunition.
“Also, there’s no way you could store guns, or anything metallic behind an MRI machine – the magnetic fields would send them flying. It’s totally absurd,” one social media user on X.
Another said on X: “Behind the… MRI machine? Sorry if I’m being silly but like, setting aside everything else for a moment, next to the giant magnet just seems like a very weird place to store guns made of metal.”
Meanwhile, the United States, Israel’s main financial and political supporter and ally, parroted the IOF’s allegations.
Hours before the raid at Al-Shifa, White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters that he had “information” that backed Israel’s claims over the presence of Hamas at hospitals in Gaza.
However, Kirby did not provide any evidence to counter the findings of independent investigations into the allegations—all of which turned out null.
In a statement cited by Al Jazeera on Wednesday, Hamas has slammed Washington’s claims as a “green light to the Israeli occupation to commit further brutal massacres targeting hospitals”, Al Jazeera reported.
“The White House and Pentagon’s adoption of the false Israeli narrative claiming that the resistance uses the al-Shifa Medical Centre for military reasons constituted a green light for [Israel] to commit more massacres against civilians, and to forcibly remove them from the north to the south to continue the occupation’s plan of displacing our people,” Hamas said in the statement.
On Wednesday, The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a New York civil liberties group, filed a complaint on Monday on behalf of Palestinian human rights organisations, Palestinians in Gaza, and US citizens with relatives in the besieged enclave accusing U.S. President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin of failing to prevent but instead aiding what has been described as “genocide” in Gaza.
The lawsuit points out their “failure to prevent and complicity in the Israeli government’s unfolding genocide,” citing Washington’s extensive financial and military support to Israel.