Raid on Gaza Hospital: This Is No Longer a Fight in Self-Defense

Raiding a hospital and taking the lives of patients and displaced persons is unacceptable for any reason. Israel’s claim that it was exercising its right to self-defense against a terrorist organization lacks persuasiveness.

The Israeli military raided Shifa Hospital in the Palestinian territory of Gaza and has put the hospital under its control. Doctors and other medical personnel were prevented from treating patients, and many patients died, including infants. The hospital has already run out of fuel and medical supplies, putting it in a critical situation.

Shifa Hospital is the largest general hospital in Gaza, which is controlled by the Islamist group Hamas. The Israeli side launched the raid, claiming that a Hamas command center was located in the hospital’s basement and that it was a stronghold for attacks against Israel.

So far, however, no large underground facility that might be a command center has been found. The Israeli side has only released video footage of weapons such as automatic rifles that it claims to have found inside the hospital, as well as the entrance to a tunnel that was located within the hospital premises.

The targeting of hospitals for military operations is prohibited under international humanitarian law. If a hospital is in fact a military facility, it is exempt from the protection of international law, but it is obvious that Shifa Hospital is a medical facility.

Nevertheless, the Israeli military raided the hospital without taking any prior measures to evacuate the infants and other patients to safe places. This is an inhumane act that disregards civilian casualties.

Even if there was an underground command center, the taking of civilian lives indiscriminately, including patients, can hardly be justified.

The Israeli military has also targeted schools and refugee camps in Gaza, and has expanded its attacks to the south, which it has designated as a place of refuge for residents of the north.

Even with such intense military operations, there has not been progress in the targeted destruction of Hamas and the release of hostages taken by Hamas. Israel should rethink its strategy on how to achieve the operations’ objectives while minimizing civilian casualties.

The U.N. Security Council has adopted a resolution calling on both Israel and Hamas for pauses in the fighting, for the purpose of providing humanitarian aid to children and others.

The United States so far has vetoed resolutions that did not mention Israel’s right to self-defense, from the standpoint of full support for Israel. This time, however, the United States abstained from voting on the resolution and allowed its adoption. Washington was likely aware of the harsh international public opinion toward Israel.

It is quite natural that Japan voted in favor of the resolution. Japan must take the lead in promoting efforts by the international community to halt the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 22, 2023)