Israel was attacked 34 days ago. It entered the war within hours. The heart of Hamas’s command structure, everyone knows and has known for a decade, is under the al-Shifa Hospital. Your mission, today and every day going forward that the hospital is at the forefront in the news, is to remind people of this simple and salient fact: Every single patient, every single doctor, every single nurse, and every single piece of medical equipment in that building could have been moved, carefully and without molestation from Israel, over the course of the three weeks that Israel’s military task seemed to be to soften the battleground miles and miles north of al-Shifa.
Had the area in Gaza been hit with, I don’t know, a tsunami, that is exactly what would have happened. Every hospital on earth has an evacuation plan in the case of a catastrophic electrical failure or an unexpected geological or meteorological event. Do not allow a single person to shed a crocodile tear around you on this matter. Israel is not responsible for what is happening or what might happen to al-Shifa.
Article 19 of the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly says this: “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.” Hamas is, under the provisions of international law, the party whose actions have removed al-Shifa hospital from the Geneva Convention’s very specific rules regarding the mutual requirement to keep hospitals out of the fray. Article 19 goes on to say that this sphere of “protection may, however, cease only after due warning has been given, naming, in all appropriate cases, a reasonable time limit, and after such warning has remained unheeded.” How much more warning could Israel have possibly given about its need to engage with the command base under the hospital? Two months? Six months? Until the release of the next Game of Thrones novel?
Do what you can. Do not let this argument go unanswered wherever you are. Israel can only end this war by destroying the base under al-Shifa. The sooner that happens, the sooner the direct threat to the civilians of Gaza will end. Every hair on the head of every Gazan that has been bestirred by violence since 10/7 has been the result of Hamas actions. Not Israeli actions. So when you read on the homepage of the New York Times, as I did just now, “Gaza’s Largest Hospital Struggles to Keep Patients Alive,” you complete that sentence for your friends and family: Every single one of those patients should have been relocated weeks ago, and the blood is on Hamas’s hands. Say it in emails. Say it on Facebook. Say it on X. Say it wherever. This, and statements like this—this is what we can do to help.