Fighting Anti-Israeli Bias

Item 7



Claim 46: Israel Targets Hospitals in Violation of International Law in its Post-October 7th War


Iraq, 55th session

“We condemn all shelling of hospitals…”

China, 55th session

“Hospitals targeted frequently.”

Morocco, 55th session

“The…destruction of hospitals…is unbearable and we cannot stay silent about it.”

Cuba, 55th session

“Cuba strongly condemns…the destruction of houses, hospitals…”

Afghanistan, 55th session

“We have witnessed…horrific attacks on hospitals…”

Our Response

UN Watch

UN Watch Response

It is unfortunate that Gaza’s hospitals have been the center of such fierce fighting in Israel’s ongoing war against Hamas. However, instead of directing outrage at Israel, countries should be condemning Hamas for embedding its military operations in these hospitals, thus converting them into valid military targets. Under International Humanitarian Law, hospitals enjoy protected status, but they lose protection when used to commit acts harmful to the enemy—including, sheltering combatants, holding hostages, storing weapons, and housing command centers.[1]

Hamas’s exploitation of Gaza hospitals for military purposes is systematic and has been reported by the international media, including The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.[2] Dutch journalist Jan Franke recounted from his own experience in 2014 that he personally saw fighters at Al-Shifa Hospital and that “Everyone in Gaza including UN staff knows about the dual use of these facilities.”[3] In addition, former USAID Gaza Director Dave Harden has stated that “it was broadly suspected/understood as far back as 2014 that Hamas used the Al-Shifa Hospital complex as a command center and base for operations.”[4]

The evidence that Hamas exploited Gaza hospitals and other medical facilities for military purposes during the October 7th war is overwhelming and highly incriminating. The IDF has documented such use in the Al-Quds Hospital, Indonesian Hospital, Rantisi Hospital, Sheikh Hamad Hospital, Kamal Adwan Hospital, Nasser Hospital, and most notoriously, the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.[5]

This use includes housing command and control centers, terror tunnels running underneath, weapons storage, and hiding and murdering kidnapped hostages.[6] Released Israeli hostages testified how they were brought into and hidden within and under hospitals.[7] In one of the more shocking examples, CCTV footage showed two hostages (Thai and Nepali nationals) taken from Israel and being brought into Al-Shifa Hospital, surrounded by a group of armed men.[8]

During the IDF’s February 2024 military operation in Nasser Hospital, it found weapons, an Israeli vehicle stolen on October 7th, boxes of medicine for the hostages, and Hamas terrorists posing as medical staff.[9]

On April 1, 2024, the IDF completed a two-week raid on Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists in Al-Shifa Hospital. After it pulled out, the IDF announced it had killed 200 gunmen and captured 900, including 500 confirmed terror operatives.[10] In order to protect civilians in the hospital during the raid, the IDF brought doctors, medical equipment and other provisions, and evacuated some patients, as well as civilians sheltering in the hospital.[11]

One of the captured terrorists, Palestinian Islamic Jihad spokesman Tarik Salame Uda Abu, admitted that “Gaza terror groups use all of the hospitals in the Gaza Strip.”[12] Similarly, in December 2023, captured Hamas lieutenant colonel Ahmed Kahlot, who doubled as the Director of Gaza’s Kamal Adwan Hospital, admitted that Hamas had converted the hospital into a military facility and held a hostage there. He added that Hamas use of Gaza hospitals for military purposes is a deliberate tactic aimed at protecting its military assets.[13]

The countries making this accusation ignore that IDF operations inside Gaza’s hospitals have been conducted in full compliance with international law. The IDF has provided warnings and taken measures to respect the medical functions of the facilities as well as the civilian staff and patients.[14] This was exemplified in its March 2024 operation inside Al-Shifa. Likewise, during its first operation in Al-Shifa, in November 2023, the IDF provided numerous warnings, called for the hospital to be evacuated, facilitated evacuation, maintained regular contact with hospital authorities, brought medical teams with Arabic speakers, and provided medical supplies and incubators.[15] Also, during its February 2024 operation in Nasser Hospital, Israel facilitated the evacuation of civilians, including 32 patients who were transferred by the WHO to other medical facilities.[16] In addition, Israel has facilitated the establishment of field hospitals and floating hospitals to accommodate sick and injured Gazans, and ensured the entry of over 20,000 tons of medical supplies into Gaza.[17]

[1] See Articles 18 and 19, Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War (Fourth Geneva Convention), (August 12, 1949), 75 U.N.T.S. 287,; Articles 12 and 13, Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), (June 8, 1977),; Customary IHL Rule 28, ICRC Database (Last Visited March 12, 2024) (discussing treaty provisions and state practice relating to protection and loss of protection for medical facilities), See also Michael N. Schmitt, Israel-Hamas 2023 Legal Symposium, The Legal Protection of Hospitals  During Armed Conflict, Articles of War (December 29, 2023),

[2] Hamas Exploitation of Hospitals for Military-Terrorist Purposes Shifa Hospital as a test case, The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (December 12, 2023),

[3] @Franke_schrift, Twitter (November 16, 2023, 8:25 AM),

[4] Ex-USAID director in Gaza says it was well known Hamas used Shifa Hospital, Times of Israel (November 15, 2023),

[5] Evidence of Hamas’ Terrorist Operations Inside Gaza Hospitals, IDF (Last visited March 13, 2024),

[6] Hamas Exploitation of Hospitals for Military-Terrorist Purposes Shifa Hospital as a test case, The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (December 12, 2023),; Avi Scharf and Yarden Michaeli, Videos Show Exact Path of Hamas Tunnels Under Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital, Haaretz (November 23, 2023),

[7] Israeli hostage Yarden Roman-Gat shares details of her captivity in Gaza, 60 Minutes YouTube (December 18, 2023),; The Pain is unbearable, but you can’t scream.” – Maya’s story about her captivity in Gaza, Keshet YouTube (January 2, 2024),

[8] Yaniv Kubovich, Israeli Army Releases Footage of Hostages Inside Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital on October 7, Haaretz (November 19, 2023),

[9] Hamas terrorists posing as doctors arrested in IDF hospital operation, Jerusalem Post (February 18, 2024),

[10] Emanuel Fabian, IDF ends Shifa Hospital raid, says it killed 200 terror operatives, arrested 500 more, Times of Israel (April 1, 2024),

[11] John Spencer, Israel Has Created a New Standard for Urban Warfare. Why Will No One Admit It? Newsweek (March 26, 2024),; IDF establishes field medical aid center amid al-Shifa hospital operation, Jerusalem Post (March 23, 2024),; Emanuel Fabian, IDF ends Shifa Hospital raid, says it killed 200 terror operatives, arrested 500 more, Times of Israel (April 1, 2024),

[12] Yonah Jeremy Bob, Islamic Jihad spokesman admits taking over all Gaza hospitals, Jerusalem Post (April 8, 2024),

[13] Emanuel Fabian, Gaza hospital director admits Hamas used medical complex as operational hub, Times of Israel (December 19, 2023),; @IDF, Twitter (December 19, 2023, 4:29 PM),

[14] John Spencer, Hospitals Are Protected Under International Law. But They Cannot be ‘Off Limits,’ Newsweek (February 21, 2024),

[15] IDF Forces Are Conducting an Intelligence-Based Precise Operation in a Specified Area in the Shifa Hospital, IDF (November 15, 2023),; Emanuel Fabian, IDF: Medical supplies delivered to Gaza’s Shifa Hospital during ‘precise and targeted operation,’ Times of Israel (November 15, 2023),

[16] Mehul Srivastava, Israeli military starts evacuation of Gaza’s last big hospital, Financial Times (February 14, 2024),; WHO says 32 patients evacuated from ‘no longer functional’ Nasser hospital in Gaza, Times of Israel (February 20, 2024),

[17] Medical Aid and Field Hospitals in the Gaza Strip, IDF (January 22, 2024),; Israel’s humanitarian efforts, COGAT (Last visited April 11, 2024),

UN Watch