At the very moment the baby granddaughter of Hamas’s Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was being treated for a critical illness at Schneider Children’s Hospital near Tel Aviv Monday, a Hamas official boasted that his movement’s rockets could hit targets in Israel “past Tel Aviv.”
Speaking to Hamas daily Al-Resalah, Gaza-based official Salah Bardawil said that Hamas has improved its rocket capabilities since Operation Pillar of Defense last year, and is now able to hit targets beyond Israel’s commercial and cultural hub.
“The resistance now has various military surprises in addition to newly acquired expertise,” Bardawil said. “[Hamas] has improved its performance.”
During Operation Cast Lead in November 2012, Israel destroyed most of Hamas’s Fajr-5 rockets, obtained from Iran and able to reach a distance of 75 kilometers (46 miles), covering the greater Tel Aviv area. However, Hamas has been developing locally made M-75 rockets with a similar range, one of which landed south of Jerusalem on the third day of the military operation. Over 1,500 projectiles were launched into Israel from Gaza over the course of the eight-day military operation.
Like other Israeli hospitals in the greater Tel Aviv area, Schneider Children’s Hospital, where Aamal Haniyeh was admitted on Sunday with severe inflammation of the gastrointestinal system, has been forced to take precautions against rocket attacks emanating from Gaza.
Over the past few years, the hospital has reinforced its glass windows against shattering and secured an oxygen supply to the basement in case of emergency patient evacuation, hospital spokeswoman Riva Shaked told The Times of Israel Tuesday.
Two hundred Palestinian children are treated at Schneider Hospital every year on average, and 70 percent of them reside in Gaza, Shaked added.
“The Palestinian Authority pays the bill for their treatment,” she said.
Following the news of the treatment in Israel of Aamal Haniyeh, an Israeli government spokesman on Tuesday pointed out Hamas’s cynicism.
“Ismail Haniyeh did not hesitate to send his granddaughter to an Israeli hospital to save her life, all the while expressing his commitment to killing Israelis,” tweeted Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman to the Arab media for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “This hypocrisy indicates [Hamas’s] savagery.”
Hamas PM’s granddaughter is now cared for in an Israeli hospital. I guess Hamas, who fired rockets at other hospitals, will spare this one.
— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) November 18, 2013
Israel has increasingly been serving as an outlet for patients from Gaza since Egypt tightened its closure of the Rafah Border Crossing in July. Egypt now opens the border to civilian traffic only rarely and arbitrarily.
According to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, 395 Palestinian patients were admitted to Israeli hospitals from Gaza for medical treatment in September, the highest number allowed in since January 2011. An additional 593 patients from Gaza were admitted to Palestinian hospitals is east Jerusalem. No data exists yet for October or November.
Fadel Al-Mzaini, a medical researcher at Gaza’s Palestinian Center for Human Rights, said the number of patients Israel allows to enter is still far lower than the need of the Strip’s population of 1.7 million.
“They [Israel] have indeed made it easier at the Erez Crossing [between Gaza and Israel], but they only allow in patients who are very seriously ill,” Al-Mzaini told The Times of Israel. “They only allow in 20-25 patients a day and close the crossing on weekends and Jewish holidays.”
On Sunday, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, known as COGAT, received a phone call from the Palestinian Authority’s liaison office in Gaza requesting to admit Aamal Haniyeh, 1, to an Israeli hospital, after her medical condition deteriorated. The baby was immediately transferred to Israel, accompanied by her maternal grandmother, and admitted to Schneider Children’s Hospital.
“She was brought into Israel, but returned to Gaza after her condition could not be stabilized. She is in critical condition,” Major Guy Inbar, a spokesman for COGAT, told The Times of Israel.
Last month, Prime Minister Haniyeh called for a popular uprising in the West Bank and lauded recent terror attacks on the second anniversary of the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas in 2006.
No mention of the hospitalization was made on Hamas’s official media outlets.