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HonestReporting: Washington Post Publishes Speculative Hit Piece to Muddy the Waters of Israel’s Shifa Hospital Raid



A November Washington Post op-ed headline read: “Evidence confirms Israel’s al-Shifa claims, so critics move the goal posts.”

Now, a Washington Post investigation into the “assault on Gaza’s largest hospital” appears to have taken that headline as a challenge as they lay out the case that “evidence presented by the Israeli government falls short of showing that Hamas had been using the [al-Shifa] hospital as a command and control center.”

Let’s take a look at their claims:

1. Hamas does not appear to be operating out of al-Shifa

Assertions that Hamas has abused Shifa’s protected status go back many years. So it was hardly a surprise when, as The Post put it, “Weeks before Israel sent troops into al-Shifa Hospital, its spokesman began building a public case.”

Indeed, it was weeks before the IDF took the hospital. Throughout this war, Israel has surrendered the element of surprise in order to minimize the risk of Palestinian civilian casualties. So, given the likelihood that the IDF would reach Shifa, it would have been surprising had Hamas not used the available time to mount a clean-up operation in advance of the IDF’s arrival.

The Post, however, attempts to make the case that Israel committed a war crime for raiding the hospital because it appeared that the hospital was not being used by the terrorists at that exact moment when the IDF took the facility.

Yet, International Law dictates that “injury to civilians…which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated, is prohibited.” The Post readily admits it has no access to either the Israeli intelligence or that of the US, which also stated it had intelligence to back up Israel’s assertions. So this implied accusation falls flat.

2. The tunnels uncovered by the IDF “showed no immediate evidence of military use by Hamas.”

While the underground tunnel uncovered by Israeli forces after the raid does point to a possible militant presence underneath the hospital at some point, it does not prove that a command node was operating there during the war.

“A possible militant presence underneath the hospital at some point”? How many hospitals have military-grade tunnels built underneath them? Why is The Post not asking why there is a tunnel there at all?

Instead, it attempts to show that its estimate of where the tunnel network spreads under Shifa cannot be proven to exactly match the intelligence claims made by the IDF in prior weeks. We do not know how much of the network has been explored by IDF soldiers. We do know that the IDF has specifically tried to avoid sending its forces physically deep inside the tunnels due to the risk of booby traps and other dangers to Israeli soldiers. So it’s hardly surprising that the IDF has prioritized destroying such tunnels rather than escorting foreign media on extensive tours. It is worth noting that where the IDF has transparently allowed foreign journalists to see the evidence for themselves, the media have done their utmost to minimize or dismiss the evidence.

3. Weapons found in al-Shifa may not have belonged to Hamas

But what about the terrorist presence above ground? The evidence is also dismissed.

Instead of highlighting the weapons uncovered in the hospital, The Post muddies the waters.

The Post was unable to independently verify to whom the weapons belonged or how they came to be inside the radiology unit.

“Unable to independently verify” has become a catchall for the media anytime they want to avoid acknowledging that Israeli evidence is compelling enough to justify its actions or even to sow the seeds to doubt in the minds of readers to imply that evidence could have been planted or staged.

4. Hostages in al-Shifa

And the security camera footage of two hostages, one of whom appeared to be injured, being led through the hospital? According to The Post:

Israel stands accused by The Post of using Shifa as a justification for targeting other hospitals in the Gaza Strip. Again, the evidence of Hamas misuse of hospitals is dismissed as in the case of the Kamal Adwan Hospital’s director, Ahmed al-Kahlot.

Israel released an interrogation video Tuesday in which Kahlot admitted to being a member of Hamas and said the hospital was under the control of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the group’s armed wing. In response, Gaza’s Health Ministry said the statement was made “under the force of oppression, torture and intimidation” to “justify [Israel’s] successive crimes, especially against the health system.”