A Palestinian hospital is being surrounded by Israeli tanks. With or without patients in need, doctors and medical staff are forewarned that they must depart. Even though there are still thousands of people inside, artillery attacks continue.
The Indonesian Hospital in Beit Lahia, Gaza, had its turn on Monday. Even as armored vehicles get closer to the hospital, Israeli attacks on the facility have claimed the lives of at least 12 people.
However, it was only the most recent medical facility to deal with the Israeli army’s wrath.
Israel’s attacks on hospitals have become almost a theme of the conflict six weeks into its war with Gaza, despite the fact that there have also been casualties in the form of refugee camps, schools, and churches. At least 21 of Gaza’s 35 hospitals, including the single cancer center on the strip, are completely unmaintained, while others have suffered damage and are short on supplies.
After weeks of being fed formula mixed with contaminated water and without incubators due to a lack of fuel brought on by Israel’s nearly total siege on the enclave since the October 7 Hamas attack, 31 premature babies were evacuated from al-Shifa Hospital on Sunday to Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. There had already been at least eight fatalities.
Since last week, after shelling some of the hospital, Israeli forces have effectively taken over al-Shifa. Al-Shifa was housing thousands of civilians who had been displaced by Israeli bombing in addition to patients and medical professionals, just like Gaza’s other hospitals.
At least four hospitals were surrounded by armored vehicles as Israel’s military advanced toward the West Bank, which was under occupation, on Friday. One of the biggest hospitals in the West Bank, Ibn Sina Hospital, was raided. Additionally, Israeli forces detained some patients and their caregivers from a hospital in East Jerusalem at the beginning of November.
But given that leading human rights organizations, which have charged Israel with war crimes, have also harshly criticized it, why does Israel continue to target Palestinian hospitals?
Inform them that “Nowhere is safe.”
Israel claims in writing that it is focusing on infrastructure or facilities that house Hamas fighters.
Israel asserted that, for instance, Hamas was utilizing al-Shifa as a command center. Days after seizing control of the facility, Israel has been unable to offer compelling evidence to support Hamas’ denial of that assertion.
Omar Rahman, a fellow at the Doha-based Middle East Council on Global Affairs, claims that Israel’s actual motivation for attacking hospitals is different. He claimed that it is a type of psychological warfare.
According to Rahman, Israel acts with “total impunity,” and attacking hospitals “tells the populace that nowhere for [Palestinians] is safe.”
Making Palestinians feel unsafe in every facility in the strip, according to senior Palestine analyst Tahani Mustafa of the International  Crisis Group, puts an end to any resistance.
Mustafa told Al Jazeera that Israel is showing Palestinians that no one and no space is safe by harassing medical personnel and services on a regular basis.
She continued, “It is a deliberate effort to intimidate local populations and weaken their will to resist.”
Israel has targeted several ambulances and medical facilities in the West Bank and Gaza throughout the conflict, alleging that Palestinian fighters use them as a means of transportation and shelter, but the analyst has not offered any supporting data.
US green light
According to Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Washington-based Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, Israel also targets public structures like hospitals because it can get away with it.
Parsi told Al Jazeera that “the only scrutiny and the only imposed limits that matter are those from the United States.”
He continued, “Israel’s calculation is that as long as the US refuses to restrict Israeli actions, international outcry won’t matter.”
Israelis are “taking the opportunity to do things they otherwise could not do,” Parsi explained, in the absence of this US pressure as well as the “most extremist” and right-wing government Israel has ever had.
However, as the war continues, the US may be forced to urge its ally to lessen the ferocity of its assaults because of how the world perceives it.
According to Parsi, the US’s reputation and credibility worldwide are declining as a result of its support for such Israeli actions.