The IDF targeted sections of the Al-Wafa rehabilitation hospital in Gaza’s Shejaiya neighborhood on Wednesday, explaining that the medical facility was being used as a Hamas command center and utilized repeatedly by Islamist gunmen to launch attacks on Israeli forces. It said it had issued repeated warnings to the hospital authorities, told civilians to vacate the premises, and warned the gunmen to stop abusing the medical facility.
It later issued a video showing gunfire from the premises, and featuring a recording of phone calls from the IDF to the hospital in which the IDF was assured that the hospital was locked and there were no patients inside. The clip also showed a Hamas tunnel opening adjacent to the hospital.
“Hamas terrorists have been intentionally abusing the hospital and other international protected symbols to indiscriminately attack Israel and its civilians,” said IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.
The 17 patients who were in the complex were moved to another location last Thursday, the hospital’s chief, Basman Alashi, told Haaretz, after the Israeli Air Force carried out an earlier strike at the site.
In a statement the IDF explained that “the hospital grounds and its immediate surroundings have been repeatedly utilized by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a command center, rocket launching site, and a post enabling terrorists to open fire at soldiers.”
Gunmen, some launching anti-tank missiles, frequently opened fire on troops operating in the area, the IDF said, including on Wednesday morning. Airstrikes against the compound went ahead “in light of several occasions in which fire was opened at IDF forces from within the hospital grounds, and despite repeated warnings against such activities, and notifications to civilians to vacate the premises.”
The IDF noted that it had repeatedly brought the abuse of the hospital grounds to the attention of international organizations and also directly warned the hospital administration and Palestinian officials of the situation.
Channel 2 reported that the notification included a personal phone call to the hospital administrator warning him of the upcoming attacks.
“The IDF is determined in preventing the ongoing aggression by Hamas that is directed by a strategy of exploitation and abuse of the civilian population and its well-being,” Lerner said.
The IDF also published a video clip showing what it said was terrorists fleeing in an ambulance after being engaged by IDF paratroopers.
On Tuesday the United Nations Relief and Works Agency revealed that, for the second time in less than a week, rockets were found in a school that it operates in Gaza.