Geneva - SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties stated that the Israeli army raided several buildings in Al-Shifa complex, one of the largest hospitals in Gaza City, in the early hours of Wednesday, November 15. The raid involved a large number of vehicles and indiscriminate gunfire, transforming it into a detention center. This constitutes a war crime and a complete crime against humanity, directly committed before the eyes of the international community and United Nations organizations, which reflects the level of moral and professional collapse in their silence regarding Israeli crimes.
The organization stated in a statement issued today, Wednesday, that the Israeli army informed the hospital director late last night that it would raid the medical complex under the pretext of searching for weapons and wanted individuals. The medical staff and hundreds of displaced people were taken by surprise when the army entered the Nephrology and Internal Medicine building. The army claims that the raid was targeted and based on intelligence information, according to their statement.
"Sam" also pointed out that it listened to a recorded conversation between the director of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, Munir Al-Bursh, and one of the soldiers, which was published by the Hebrew channel's page on Facebook. In the conversation, Al-Bursh, the director of Al-Shifa Hospital, is heard talking to the soldier who informed him of the need to stay away from windows and for armed individuals to exit. The doctor then informed him that Al-Shifa complex only houses civilians and patients with critical conditions, and they will remain in their designated areas. "Sam" emphasizes the responsibility of the occupying army for the safety of patients, doctors, and civilians who sought refuge in the hospital. Since the occupying army is the sole controlling authority over Al-Shifa Hospital and its surroundings, it imposes a security cordon around the hospital and cuts off internet and communication in the area.
According to the information published by the Gaza media office, the Israeli army has been shelling Al-Shifa complex during its ongoing siege for several days. They targeted and fired at five buildings, preventing anyone from moving around in the external courtyards of the medical complex. The situation was so severe that they had difficulty burying approximately 170 individuals in the hospital's garden, as they were unable to leave and bury them in proper cemeteries due to the imposed siege on the hospital.
"Sam" highlighted that the Israeli occupation forces' invasion of Al-Shifa Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in Gaza, poses a serious threat to the lives of thousands of individuals, including displaced persons, injured individuals, patients, and medical staff. The hospital currently houses hundreds of wounded and patients with special conditions who cannot be transferred outside the hospital. Among them are 47 newborn babies, as well as individuals in the intensive care unit. The hospital has announced the death of one individual due to the power outage and the imposed siege on the hospital.
The organization emphasizes that the invasion and siege of Al-Shifa Hospital for multiple days constitute a grave violation of the laws and customs of war and qualify as a "war crime" under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. International humanitarian law provides general and specific protection for civilian sites, as outlined in the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), the First and Second Protocols to the Geneva Conventions (1977), and the Hague Convention (1954).
Indeed, special protection is afforded to hospitals under the Fourth Geneva Convention (Article 18). It is strictly prohibited to attack civilian hospitals that are organized to provide care for the wounded, sick, elderly, and women, and they must be respected and protected at all times. The Convention states that "the protection to which civilian hospitals are entitled shall not cease unless they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy." Furthermore, the common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions obliges all parties to "collect the wounded and sick and to protect and care for them."
Indeed, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 2675 in 1970, which states that "the hospital zone or any similar refuge shall not be the object of military operations." Therefore, "indiscriminate or targeted attacks on hospitals, medical units, and personnel working in a humanitarian capacity" are never allowed.
The organization emphasizes the primary responsibility of the United States of America and the ethical consequences of the Israeli army's invasion of Al-Shifa Hospital. It points out that the green light given by the US administration to Israel in supporting its narrative of armed individuals inside the hospital has put the lives of thousands of individuals present in the hospital at immediate, serious, and imminent risk.
The organization further expressed its regret and astonishment at the failure of the international community and the International Criminal Court to initiate an urgent investigation into the crimes of aggression and genocide committed against civilian targets, including hospitals, healthcare centers, and residential areas where innocent civilians reside. These locations are protected under international law with special and heightened safeguards.
"SAM" concluded its statement by calling on the international community to form a special United Nations committee to investigate the grave consequences of the Israeli army's invasion of Al-Shifa Hospital and the firing of shots towards displaced persons and medical personnel. It emphasized that the international community, which is facing an unprecedented ethical failure, is obligated to take urgent action to save the lives of children, patients, and the injured from an impending disaster that the whole world may witness without any tangible and genuine response.