More on Gaza's infamous Hamas hospital headquarters

Hamas never made any pretense about its use of civilian facilities in Gaza, including schools and hospitals, as military outposts. The terrorist organization seemed particularly invested in the infrastructure it had established in and under Gaza’s infamous Shifa Hospital. It gave foreign journalists tours of the facility. Media outlets documented the presence of Hamas fighters in its wings. But when Israel resolved to dismantle the facility in a complex and dangerous operation that sought to secure the facility without interrupting its ongoing medical services, Israel’s critics succumbed to an acute bout of amnesia.

After Israel Defense Forces secured the hospital complex, it released a trove of evidence indicative of the facility’s use as a military outpost with the apparent complicity of hospital staff. “But the evidence presented by the Israeli government falls short of showing that Hamas had been using the hospital as a command and control center,” read a Washington Post analysis of IDF-provided materials.

It was a bizarre conclusion, even at the time. The evidence of Shifa’s dual use as a hospital and a military facility — a condition that strips it of its protections under the Laws of Armed Conflict — was plain. The IDF turned up caches of small arms, explosive devices, military uniforms, and body armor stored on hospital grounds. It found operational intelligence tied to Hamas on laptops used by terrorist operatives. It found surveillance footage showing hospital staff and Hamas terrorists working hand in hand to hide the Israeli captives seized during the October 7 massacre. Hospital officials confessed on camera to their work on Hamas’s behalf. And yet, the Post could find no evidence Hamas’s military tunnels beneath Shifa were, in fact, connected to Shifa. That was sufficient to justify the Post’s speculation that Israel’s conduct represented a flagrant disregard for the laws of war.

The Post climbed out on a limb. This week, the Biden White House sawed it off behind them.

“We have information that continues to support our conclusion that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad used the al-Shifa Hospital complex and sites beneath it to house command infrastructure, exercise certain command and control activities, store some weapons, and hold at least a few hostages,” said a Biden administration official upon its decision to reveal U.S. intelligence around the hospital’s misuse. NBC News reporter Josh Lederman confirmed that the administration revealed, “new information that corroborates that Hamas was using bunkers and tunnels underneath al-Shifa, not only for command and control but also to store weapons and at least a few of the hostages.” The U.S. analysis follows Israeli claims that it dismantled a 250-meter tunnel beneath the hospital that “led to a number of significant terrorist centers and was used for carrying out terrorist operations.”

But the Post is still holding fast to its skepticism. “While U.S. officials say the intelligence community has ‘high confidence’ in its assessment of al-Shifa’s use by Hamas, they have not publicly released visual or audio evidence,” the outlet insisted. “The IDF’s claims have also been challenged by a lack of conclusive proof.”

Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. But the extraordinary claim here is not that Hamas was using the hospital as a military facility. The terror sect never made any bones about that. The extraordinary claim was that they were not. If the burden to prove Hamas fighters planned and executed operations from that facility, that burden was met within days following its capture by the IDF. The burden of proving that the facility was not a militarily significant target has never been met — indeed, no one has attempted to meet it. The contention that Israel was exaggerating its claims rests on a subjective assessment of how wide the terror tunnels would have to be to satisfy Jerusalem’s critics or the precise areas of the hospital those tunnels would have to access to silence Israel’s skeptics. It’s paltry stuff — a tendentious argument designed not to inform readers but to muddy the waters.

The Biden administration’s decision to shame Israel’s skeptics in the press with this selective intelligence release is a welcome development. It’s only unfortunate that their targets appear incapable of shame.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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