The Israeli army said Wednesday morning that its troops were carrying out “a precise and targeted operation” on Gaza’s largest hospital, a complex of buildings where thousands of Palestinian refugees had sought refuge, as part of the campaign “to defeat Hamas and save our hostages.” .”
The statement comes a day after Israel, facing an international outcry over increasingly difficult conditions in besieged hospitals in the Gaza Strip, sought to strengthen its case for further military action by issuing a video of what he said were weapons at a children’s hospital in Gaza. and accounts of sexual violence and other atrocities committed by Hamas during the October 7 attacks.
A spokesperson for Gaza’s health ministry told Al Aqsa television just before the raid that the Israeli military had warned that an operation at Gaza City’s main hospital complex, Al-Shifa, was imminent. .
The Israeli military also released a statement regarding its operation on social media on Wednesday. But it remains unclear exactly how many soldiers took part in the assault. In the statement, the Israeli military said the aim of the raid was not to harm civilians, and that the forces that entered the hospital included medical teams and Arabic speakers.
“Israel is at war against Hamas, not against the civilians of Gaza,” the statement said. Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, a spokesman for the Israeli army, said on social media that the army would transfer incubators, medical equipment and baby food to the hospital. He claimed that before the raid, Israel had attempted evacuate patients from the hospital and people who had taken refuge there, creating a safe exit route for them.
The New York Times was unable to reach the hospital director or Gaza Health Ministry spokesperson for questions about Israel’s offer, the details of which remain unclear.
In a statement, Hamas said it held the Israeli army and President Biden “fully responsible” for the raid. He said the White House gave Israel “the green light” for the raid on Tuesday, when a spokesman said U.S. intelligence agencies supported Israel’s conclusion that Hamas is using the hospitals for military purposes.
The White House did not immediately respond to Hamas’ statement.
Israel says Hamas has dug a network of tunnels beneath Gaza’s hospitals, using patients and workers there as human shields for its command centers and safe houses. The United States supported Israel’s description, saying it had intelligence to that effect. Hamas and hospital officials have denied the accusations.
To convince skeptics of its claims, Israel released videos Monday and Tuesday from inside Gaza’s main children’s hospital showing what it says are weapons and explosives found there, as well as a room where, according to the army, hostages had been held.
“This is not the last hospital like this in Gaza, and the world should know that,” Admiral Hagari said. “It’s a crime.”
Israel released the videos after weeks in which protesters, for and against the military campaign, demonstrated around the world and as the United Nations, humanitarian groups and many countries criticized Israel, calling for a cease-fire. fire and warned of a calamity in hospitals. . In recent days, Mr. Biden has also urged Israel to exercise restraint around medical centers, saying: “Hospitals must be protected.”