Report: Israeli military’s evidence is ‘much weaker’ than its claim that ‘Al-Shifa’ is the main headquarters of ‘Hamas’
According to a report in The Guardian newspaper, before storming the Al-Shifa medical complex in Gaza, Israeli forces made great efforts to present the medical complex as the headquarters of the Hamas movement, where it planned its attacks against Israel.
But the newspaper said the evidence provided by the Israeli army is far less than sufficient to prove that Al-Shifa hospital is the main headquarters of Hamas, as it claims.
He added that the absence of evidence began to remind us of the failures of previous US intelligence services, especially those preceding the invasion of Iraq, after the US administration also spoke about the hospital and that it was being used as Hamas command center, based on its independent intelligence information.
The report states that before storming the Al-Shifa medical complex, Israeli authorities made great efforts to present the complex as the headquarters of the Hamas movement, where its attacks against Israel were planned.
But the evidence presented so far is too weak to prove this, according to the report, and Israeli army videos show only modest collections of small arms, mostly assault rifles, recovered from the vast medical complex.
According to the newspaper, this “suggests an armed presence, but not the kind of elaborate nerve center depicted in the animation provided to the media before the capture of Al-Shifa, which depicts a network of well-equipped underground chambers.”
The videos shown so far by the Israeli army have also raised many questions.
A BBC analysis has found that footage broadcast by an Israeli army spokesman, showing the apparent discovery of a bag containing a gun behind an MRI scanner, was recorded hours before the arrival of journalists who was supposed to be shown on them.
In a video shown later, the number of weapons in the bag doubled.
#urgent IDF forces continue to work to uncover terrorist infrastructure within hospitals used by the terrorist organization Hamas. In the meantime, during a delicate operation at Al-Shifa hospital, IDF forces are at work. Today, in the hospital area, infrastructure has been installed for an operational tunnel belonging to the Hamas organization… pic.twitter.com/CBvKziNOW9
– Avichai Adraee (@AvichaiAdraee) November 16, 2023
The Israeli army said the video found in the hospital was shot in one take and was not edited, but BBC analysis showed it had been edited.
Israeli forces say they are still carefully exploring the site.
The video presentation of the Al-Shifa complex showed that the main structures are located deep underground, and it is possible that Israeli soldiers have not yet reached them, so there may be more on the way. According to the paper, “attempting to present what has been discovered so far as important is bound to cast doubt on anything presented next.”
The Guardian report indicated that there are doubts about the extent to which the graphic presentation of the network under the “Al-Shifa” complex depends on what Israel already knew. Its architect had built a vast underground area there the last time Israel directly occupied Gaza, until 2005.
He added that all these issues are important under the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit military operations against hospitals unless they are “used to commit acts harmful to the enemy, outside the scope of their humanitarian duties.” This exception, provided for in Article 19 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, specifically states: “…the presence of small arms and ammunition taken from such combatants and not yet delivered to the appropriate service does not constitute acts harmful to the enemy.”
Israel ratified the Geneva Conventions in 1951 and claims to respect the principle of proportionality under international humanitarian law, according to which the direct military advantage expected from a military operation exceeds the civilian harm that can reasonably be expected as a result. “Compliance with these principles is questionable,” according to the newspaper.
The newspaper quoted Mai Al-Saadani, a human rights lawyer and executive director of the editorial board of the Middle East Policy Institute in Washington, as saying: “Israel has failed to provide any evidence close to the level of proof required to justify the narrow exception under which hospitals may be targeted under the laws of war.”
He added: “In the rare event that protection is lifted, Israel will have to provide civilians with a real opportunity to evacuate, and even then, any civilian who remains in hospital after the evacuation order will still be protected according to the rules of proportionality. .”
He continued: “At every stage of this legal assessment, Israel has largely failed. “He provided photos and video footage that did not at all match her initial claims.”
At some point, these cases could be taken to criminal court. Israel does not recognize the International Criminal Court, but the Court recognizes Palestine as a member and has been investigating possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in the occupied Palestinian territories since 2021.
Even if it will take years to reach the Criminal Court ruling, the details of the assault on “Al-Shifa” have an impact on the international climate in which Israel is waging its war, according to the newspaper, according to which countries like the The United Kingdom, Germany and, above all, the United States have resisted calls to stop the shooting on the grounds that Israel’s actions constitute self-defense. Every day without convincing evidence this argument becomes more and more difficult to pursue.
By contrast, the Biden administration has not only defended Israeli operations but has made independent claims based on its information about the hospital. John Kirby, White House national security spokesman, described the alleged Hamas facility there as a command “node” rather than a center and potential weapons cache.
The newspaper concluded its report by saying: “The absence of evidence so far has begun to bring to mind the failures of previous American intelligence services, especially those preceding the invasion of Iraq. “It increases Washington’s isolation on the world stage and deepens already significant differences within the administration itself.”