Israel says WHO ignored terror activity at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital

Renee Ghert-Zand is the health reporter and a feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Hamas terrorists bring a hostage into Shifa Hospital as seen on surveillance footage from October 7, 2023. (IDF)
Hamas terrorists bring a hostage into Shifa Hospital as seen on surveillance footage from October 7, 2023. (IDF)

Health Minister Uriel Busso and Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov send a letter to the World Health Organization protesting terror activity by Hamas at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

The letter specifically mentions that the IDF Spokesperson’s Department published closed-circuit video clips from Shifa showing terror activity — including the holding of hostages — in the above-ground areas of the hospital. The letter reminds the WHO that such activity is unethical and contravenes all rules of war.

“On November 2, Dr. Michael Ryan, director of WHO health emergencies program, said he knew what was going on ‘above ground’ at Shifa and was aware that the use of medical facilities for military purposes is forbidden according to international law. At the same time, he claimed he doubted that any terror activities were happening at Shifa,” the letter says.

Based on evidence from the closed-circuit video, the Health Ministry accuses Ryan of providing an incorrect and misleading description of the situation at Shifa to the international community.

“It is clear now that WHO has ignored the use of medical facilities as human shields and of Hamas’s refusal to allow civilians to evacuate from them… WHO’s failure to address these issues amounts to its contribution to the continuation of a conflict that is causing much suffering to so many,” the letter says.

The Health Ministry also refers in the letter to terrorists Israel says are hiding underneath Shifa, other hospitals, and schools in Gaza contrary to international law.

“WHO must demand an immediate halt to the use of human shields and health facilities for terror purposes. It must also demand the evacuation of all civilian populations to safe zones and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages,” the ministry’s letter says.

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