Live News

[Bog] The controversy around Al Shifa Hospital

Inside Al Shifa hospital during Israel's ground operation around the facility on November 12, 2023. (Photo: Reuters/Ahmed El Mokhallalati)

Before the truce came into operation, Al Shifa Hospital was in the spotlight daily following the brutal onslaught by the Israeli army on the ground that it contains a network of tunnels that were being used as a command centre by Hamas. Why were the Israelis so confident of this assertion despite strong objections from the UN and the international community on these raids?


Originally, the hospital was a British army barracks. It was converted into a medical facility in 1946 and expanded in the eighties during the subsequent Egyptian and Israeli occupations to become the largest Hospital in Gaza today. It was under the Israeli occupation that underground facilities were added. These were designed by Israeli architects Gershon Zippor and Benjamin Idelson.

According to Zvi Elbyani of the Israeli Architecture Archives, the expansion works included the "excavation of an underground concrete floor"  that house the laundry and administrative servicesand the works, completed in 1983, were aimed at equipping the Hospital with "a secure underground operating room and tunnel network" (Tablet Magazine).

In an interview on CNN, Ehud Barak, the former Israeli PM, stated that "We helped them to build the bunkers in order to enable more space for the operation of the Hospital within the very limited size of the compound".

The question, therefore, of whether Al Shifa contains a network of tunnels and underground facilities is beyond dispute. What is being disputed is the claim by Israel to the effect that these facilities have been appropriated by Hamas to set  

up its command and operation centre, in short, "its Pentagon". To substantiate this claim has become a major objective for Israel, as it will help to justify its indiscriminate campaign of carpet bombing of Gaza and what have some have called the "industrial killing" of civilians, including the high number of children.

According to humanitarian law, a hospital remains a protected site as long as it has not been proved beyond the slightest doubt that it is being used "as a party to a conflict to commit an act harmful to the enemy."

What is more, according to Adil Haque of the Rutgers Law School, "even if a building loses its special protection, all the people inside retain theirs".

So far, Israel has failed to pass the "Rorschach test". It has not been able to produce compelling evidence to substantiate its clam or if it has produced any, it has been flimsy and clumsy and widely derided in social media or even by western journalists (for example, the smattering of rifles neatly arranged on a table .... reminding us of the neatly arranged ballot papers with Tsquare in a local ballot box).

A CNN journalist, who was brought by Israeli soldiers to visit a shaft purporting to be the entrance of a tunnel, has stated that this is "compelling evidence that there may be a network of tunnels below the hospital.  But it does not establish beyond doubt that there is a command centre under Gaza's largest Hospital". Dr Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor who has worked at Al Shifa for several years, has never witnessed it being used for military purposes.

Finally, the Israeli army left the hospital without producing the smoking gun while 

leaving in its wake massive destruction of equipment and compounds, a trail of corpses, depriving patients and babies of treatment and electricity and converting it into a "death zone" as per WHO.

Sources: Wikipedia, Intercept

Azize Bankur


Notre service WhatsApp. Vous êtes témoins d`un événement d`actualité ou d`une scène insolite? Envoyez-nous vos photos ou vidéos sur le 5 259 82 00 !