The Biden administration confirms long-held Israeli assertions that Hamas is using hospitals for its military purposes.
“We have information that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad use some hospitals in the Gaza Strip, including al-Shifa, and tunnels underneath them to conceal and to support their military operations and to hold hostages,” White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby tells reporters during a briefing.
“Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad members operate a command and control [center] from al-Shifa in Gaza City. They have stored weapons there and they’re prepared to respond to an Israeli military operation against that facility,” Kirby says, citing US intelligence assessments.
He clarifies that the US does not support Israel striking al-Shifa from the air, as IDF troops continue to enclose the medical center.
“Hospitals and patients must be protected,” the White House spokesperson says, stressing that innocent people are sheltering inside and do not “deserve not to be caught in the crossfire.”
The scenario highlights the challenging military operation that Israel is trying to pull off, as Hamas embeds itself within civilian populations, Kirby says.
He asserts that Hamas’s actions do not lessen Israel’s responsibility to protect civilians.
Kirby adds that roughly 115 more trucks of humanitarian aid entered Gaza over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of trucks to 1,100 since the start of the war.
He adds that 600 American citizens and their family members have been able to flee Gaza since the war’s outbreak.