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World Health Organization silent over Hamas’ use of Gaza hospital as terror HQ


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JERUSALEM — As the Israeli military continues its week-long operation battling hundreds of terrorists holed up inside Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical center in Gaza, the United Nations agency charged with promoting — and protecting — access to health care worldwide has stayed silent, refraining from condemning the cynical use of a hospital by Palestinian terror groups. 

Repeated requests for a comment from the World Health Organization by Fox News Digital were ignored this week, even as the Israel Defense Forces continued to engage with fighters from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, both U.S.-designated terror organization, who barricaded themselves inside the hospital’s maternity ward and emergency room and other places in the expansive center in Gaza City. 

“Hamas itself has admitted to using almost every hospital in Gaza, including Shifa Hospital,” Itamar Yaar, a former deputy head of Israel’s National Security Council, told Fox News Digital. “This information has been on the table for a long time.” 

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Al-Shifa hospital Gaza

Ambulances carrying victims of Israeli strikes crowd the entrance to the emergency ward of the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City Oct. 15, 2023.  (Dawood Nemer/AFP via Getty Images)

Yaar, who serves as the CEO of Commanders for Israeli Security, an organization of some 550 ex-senior security people, said Hamas specifically utilizes hospitals for its military activity “because they believe that Israel will not dare to send its troops into these sites.”

Early on in its war against the Iranian-backed terrorist groups, Israel drew sharp international criticism for allowing its troops to enter Al-Shifa Hospital as they searched for terrorists and underground bunkers used by the Hamas fighters. In November, Israel revealed a subterranean system concealed beneath the hospital, including a command and control center and rooms where the army said hostages kidnapped from Israel during the Oct. 7 mass terror attack had been held. 

World Health Organization Director

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a ceremony to launch a multiyear partnership with Qatar on making the FIFA World Cup 2022 and other sporting events healthy and safe at the WHO headquarters in Geneva Oct. 18, 2021.  (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli forces subsequently withdrew from the area but left the medical campus, which includes multiple health care clinics and offices, largely intact and able to function, allowing it to serve the thousands of Gazan civilians who remained inside the war zone despite Israeli calls for them to evacuate the area. 

“When the IDF went into that site for the first time, the information they had about the facilities was limited. But after being there for a few weeks, they [got]more information,” Yaar said, adding Israel most likely left behind surveillance equipment that informed it of Hamas’ return to the area and about it setting up terror operating cells inside the hospital.  

“Hamas went back inside the hospital because most of the other buildings nearby have been destroyed,” said Yaar. He added that it was also likely that medical staff in the hospital, including its general manager, were aware that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were operating from inside the buildings. 

“There are people who will say that the hospital’s general manager had no choice but to cooperate with Hamas, and they are right,” Yaar said. “Hamas controls Gaza by using terror against its own people. If the hospital manager refused to allow Hamas activity in the hospital, then he would either be fired, arrested or worse.”

IDF troops in the vicinity of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza.

The 162nd Division in the Shifa Hospital, troops from the Nahal Reconnaissance Unit, eliminated armed terrorists in close-quarter encounters, cleared several buildings inside the hospital and located many weapons that were hidden inside the various medical devices in the MRI complex as well as on the rooftop of the hospital. (IDF Spokesman’s Unit)

Yaar also said the World Health Organization was likely aware of Hamas’ terror activities inside the medical center. 

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“I can understand why the World Health Organization is remaining silent. They are embarrassed because there is no doubt that their people on the ground in Gaza knew what was happening there,” he said. “Maybe they didn’t know all the details, but they knew that Hamas was using the hospital.” 

Yaar said now that information about Hamas’ use of the hospital is undeniable, the WHO will likely claim it did not have any information. 

“They are not ignoring it because they are anti-Israel. They are ignoring it because they think it’s the best way to defend the local people on the ground,” he said. “But, by doing so, they are helping Hamas to have more control over the Palestinian people.” 

While spokespeople for Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization,  ignored multiple Fox News Digital requests for comment on his organization’s relationship with Hamas, Tedros refuted claims of his organization working with the terror group in January. 

“WHO refutes Israel’s accusation at the Executive Board meeting yesterday that WHO is in “collusion” with Hamas and is “turning a blind eye” to the suffering of hostages being held in Gaza. Such false claims are harmful and can endanger our staff who are risking their lives to serve the vulnerable. As a United Nations agency, WHO is impartial and is working for the health and well-being of all people,” he tweeted.

In a briefing with journalists earlier this week, Israeli army spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said troops had killed around 170 terrorists and arrested more than 500 during an intensive weeklong operation at the hospital. He also said the army had discovered 11 million shekels ($3 million) hidden in the hospital’s offices and vast amounts of weapons and ammunition. 

In a statement released by the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, together with the IDF, they said that among the apprehended terrorists were top operatives from Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas, Amr Asida, head of the Nablus unit and Mahmoud Qawasmeh, planner of the 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens.

“Our intelligence branches were watching Al-Shifa Hospital as it became Hamas’ terror headquarters again,” Hagari said. “We dismantled Hamas’ military structure in the north, but some terror cells remained there. An d they all came back, like a magnet, into Al-Shifa.”

IDF aid Gaza

Six humanitarian aid trucks entered the northern Gaza Strip via Israel. IDF says this was done as part of a pilot program to prevent Hamas terrorists from taking the aid. (IDF Spokesman’s Unit)

He said those who surrendered — or were captured by Israel — admitted to using the hospital, saying that not only was it considered a safe zone, but it was attractive because there was still electricity, water,and food. Hagari said there were still some terrorists barricaded inside the hospital and engaged in fighting Israeli forces. 

The spokesman also stated that no patients or medical staff were harmed in the delicate operation. Claims last week by one Gaza woman that Israeli soldiers had abused and raped Palestinian women during the fighting were dismissed as fake over the weekend by the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera News network, which first reported the story. 

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Israeli forces have battled the terror groups in other hospitals in Gaza, including last month at the Nasser Hospital in the southern part of the Strip. In December, hostages released by Hamas during a temporary cease-fire recounted that they had been held captive inside one of Gaza’s hospitals. 

Tal Mimran, from the Cyber Security Research Center in the Faculty of Law at Hebrew University, told Fox News Digital that, under international humanitarian law, hospitals should be afforded special protection during times of war. However, he said, for every rule, there was also an exception. One exception is if the hospital was used “in order to promote a military gain over your opponent.” 

“Hamas has been using hospitals not only for defensive and offensive purposes, but also for command and control,” said Mimran, adding that using hospitals for military purposes was part of Hamas’ “modus operandi.” 

Al Shifa IDF infographic

An infographic produced by the Israeli Defense Force shows where officials claim Hamas has created a command center under Al-Shifa Hospital. (Israeli Defense Force)

Battling in and around Gaza’s hospitals, he said, had become a significant element in the five-month Hamas-Israel war. 

“This is the first time Israel is operating with such extent and significance within hospitals in Gaza. It is definitely different from previous rounds or conflicts,” Mimran said, adding that the IDF was attempting to operate in a respectful way. 

In the first round of fighting at Al-Shifa, he said, Israeli forces took their time to enter the hospital compound, and when they did, they helped to remove patients and brought in medical equipment. They also constructed a field hospital nearby, he said. 

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“This time, it was a surprise mission,” Mirmran said of the military operation over the past week. “There were less civilians and patients there but a large number of operatives. I did not hear of significant collateral damage. There was no harm to medical staff or patients. So, I think this operation will meet the requirements or criteria of international humanitarian law.”



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