The Liberation of Gaza
That’s how historians are likely some day to look back at what is happening as the residents of Gaza sense the tide of war is moving against, in Hamas, their oppressors.
One day, when historians look at this week, they may see it as the start of liberation, as Israelis free the Gaza Strip’s residents from their torment by Hamas. For now, though, America beseeches our Israeli allies to slow down. Contrast today’s horrifying scene at al-Nasser hospital at Gaza City with Secretary Blinken’s sharp admonition at New Delhi for Israel to do “more.” It launched endless television segments from Gaza hospitals.
“Thousands of people fled to hospitals, seeking shelter there,” a CNN reporter exclaimed, decrying how Israeli tanks now surround Gaza’s largest medical center, the al Shifa hospital. They threaten refugees and patients, the reporter said. Not shown: a video clip that went viral after it was posted on X earlier today from another hospital. That visual piece better illustrates the dilemma Israel faces as it seeks to end Hamas’s threat to civilians in Israel and in Gaza.
That video, posted by the watchdog group Open Source Intel, is shot at al-Nasser hospital’s yard by a mobile phone of, to judge by the voice, an unidentified young woman. The video depicts a group of persons, white flags in hand, attempting to walk out of the yard of the hospital, through an open gate. They are hoping to escape an anticipated battle there. Once they hit the street, though, semi-automatic rifle gunshots are heard.
The women, children, and the elderly seek refuge back in the yard of the hospital they had hoped to escape. “God help us,” the terrified woman who shot the scene from above cries into her phone. While the source of the danger is hard to discern, Open Source Intel’s caption is unmistakable. “Hamas prevents Gaza residents from leaving al-Nasser hospital, firing at those trying to evacuate,” it says.
As the ground operation started, Israel warned Palestinian civilians to leave the battlefield in northern Gaza, while Hamas has blocked those who tried to flee. Now the IDF is pausing the fighting for four hours each day while it escorts civilians toward shelter at a tent city in the southern part of the territory. Plus also, too, it is urging uninvolved citizens to leave Gaza City’s hospitals, which loom as the next battleground.
Yet why go after medical facilities in the first place? For the same reason that Willie Sutton robbed banks. For days Israel has produced visual evidence showing how the Hamas military brass has turned Gaza’s hospitals into barracks. The headquarters of the Hamas killing machine is in and below Al Shifa hospital. So the better question is why do terrorists use hospitals to hide in, store arms, and build tunnels.
“The Jews don’t shoot at hospitals,” one of the perpetrators of the October 7 massacres who was captured explained in a videotaped interrogation that the IDF is distributing. That observation might have held true in past operations in Gaza by the Israeli military, but no longer. As Jerusalem defined it, and as most Israelis agree, the mission now is to finish Hamas off, including, if necessary, at hospitals like al Shifa.
Meanwhile, even as the IDF tries to get civilians out of the war zone, Mr. Blinken cavils that “there is more that can and should be done to minimize harm to Palestinian civilians.” To that end, he added at Delhi, “we’ll be continuing to discuss with Israel the concrete steps to be taken to advance these objectives.” Expect such admonitions to reach fever pitch once the IDF assault on Hamas’s lairs begins in earnest in the hospitals beneath which Hamas hides.
America can do better. As our Benny Avni reports, Washington has a lot of leverage over Qatar and other Hamas benefactors. It’s high time President Biden starts taking those players to the woodshed. The right move is for our Arab allies to insist that their terrorist cohorts stop using civilians as human shields and, while at it, to secure the unconditional and immediate release of all 239 hostages they are holding. The liberation of Gaza can’t come too soon.