Israeli Health Minister Slams WHO for Ignoring Shifa Hospital Terror
Jerusalem, 22 November, 2023 (TPS) -- Israeli Health Minister Uriel Bosso denounced the World Health Organization (WHO) for failing to recognize Hamas’s use of hospitals for terror purposes, after the Israel Defense Forces released footage on Sunday proving Hamas activity at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
In a Nov. 20 letter co-signed by Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov, Bosso cited statements by Michael Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, who said on Nov. 2 that he doubted terrorist activities were taking place at the hospital.
“Despite this, yesterday the IDF published documentation from closed-circuit cameras that clearly indicates terrorist activities [at the hospital]… In light of this evidence, it is clear that the description given by Dr. Michael Ryan of what was happening in the hospital to the international community was wrong and misleading,” the letter states.
They also accused the WHO of a double standard regarding Israel.
“Tragically, the World Health Organization has remained silent when it comes to [Hamas’s crimes of Oct. 7] and has taken only symbolic steps for the benefit of the captive Israelis, while speaking out decisively and critically against Israel’s efforts to overthrow Hamas and protect Palestinian citizens,” the letter continues.
“It is now clear that the World Health Organization has at the very least turned a blind eye to the use of medical facilities for terrorist purposes and as a human shield,” they add.
Bosso and Bar Siman Tov call on the WHO to “publicly and immediately” acknowledge Hamas’s use of medical infrastructure for terrorism and to condemn it.
They accuse Hamas of carrying out a “double war crime” by hiding under hospitals while launching missiles from those hospitals at Israeli population centers.
“By failing to address these issues, the World Health Organization contributes to the continuation of the conflict that causes many great suffering,” they write.
Addressing the issue at a Tuesday press briefing, a Prime Minister’s Office spokesman said that although there is now “incontrovertible proof” that Hamas treats hospitals as military bases, U.N. agencies like WHO have still not condemned the group.
“Will you take action and what actions will you take to prevent this recurring in future? Or will you continue to ignore Hamas’s modus operandi,” the spokesman asked of the U.N. agencies.
On Nov. 19, the IDF, with the assistance of the Israel Security Agency, released CCTV footage of Hamas terrorists transporting hostages near Shifa’s main entrance, including a Nepalese civilian and a Thai civilian, who were kidnapped from Israel on Oct. 7.
The findings, including a 180-foot tunnel 33 feet under the hospital, supplement earlier evidence that Hamas uses hospitals for terrorist activities “in a systematic and ongoing manner,” the Israel Defense Forces said.
A deep staircase led to the tunnel entrance, which featured a blast-proof door and a firing hole. “This type of door is used by the Hamas terrorist organization to block Israeli forces from entering the command centers and the underground assets belonging to Hamas,” the IDF explained.
The tunnel was uncovered in the hospital area underneath a shed alongside a vehicle containing numerous weapons including rocket-propelled grenades, explosives and automatic rifles.
Palestinians from Gaza interrogated by Israeli authorities provided further confirmation, describing how terror groups used the Shifa Hospital, the headquarters of the Palestinian Red Crescent organization and other hospitals to hide, sometimes even dressing as medical personnel.
As the Tazpit Press Service reported, in addition to being used to hide Hamas leaders and hostages, the terror group is known to have launched rockets, tortured suspected collaborators and hoarded a half-million liters of fuel in the hospital compound.
As far back as 2009, the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) reported during the Gaza war of that year that Hamas operatives were hiding in the hospital, and that the basement had become Hamas’s headquarters.
Shifa, located in the North Rimal neighborhood and boasting 570 beds, is Gaza’s largest medical center, serving the medical needs of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. It was originally built by British authorities in 1946. In the 1980s, Israel renovated and expanded Shifa as part of an initiative to improve Gaza living conditions.