The Biden administration last week Tuesday confirmed long-held Israeli assertions that Hamas is using medical facilities for military purposes, as the Israel Defense Forces closes in on Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, believed to host the terror group’s main command post.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad use of hospitals
‘We have information that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad use some hospitals in the Gaza Strip, including al-Shifa, and tunnels underneath them to conceal and to support their military operations and to hold hostages,’ White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters during a briefing.
‘Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad members operate a command and control [center] from al-Shifa in Gaza City.
‘They have stored weapons there and they’re prepared to respond to an Israeli military operation against that facility,’ Kirby said, citing US intelligence assessments.
Does US support Israel striking the medical center?
He however clarified that the US does not support Israel striking the medical center from the air.
‘Hospitals and patients must be protected,’ the White House spokesperson said, stressing that innocent people are sheltering inside and do not ‘deserve not to be caught in the crossfire.’
The scenario highlighted the challenging military operation that Israel is trying to pull off, as Hamas embeds itself within civilian populations, Kirby said.
He asserted that Hamas’s actions do not lessen Israel’s responsibility to protect civilians.
Hamas lashed out at US government
In response, Hamas lashed out at the White House.
‘These statements give a green light to the Israeli occupation to commit further brutal massacres targeting hospitals, with the goal of destroying Gaza’s healthcare system and displacing Palestinians,’ the terrorist group said in a statement issued in English.
‘The United States bears direct responsibility for enabling Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza,’ the group added.
Fighting in recent days has centered around Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, which Jerusalem says is hiding Hamas’s main operations center in an underground bunker.
The IDF has repeatedly denied that Israel has surrounded or besieged the medical center, saying that one entrance remains open and that it is working in conjunction with staff to allow for the safe passage of patients and civilians.