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Al Shifa Hospital

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Shifa Hospital. Credit: ‘Washington Post’ FB page.

 

Shifa Hospital. Credit: ‘Washington Post’ FB page.

Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical facility in Gaza, has played a significant role in the region’s history, particularly during various conflicts involving Israel and Palestinian factions. This article provides an overview of the hospital’s background, its role in conflicts and the controversies surrounding it.

Background and History

Al-Shifa Hospital, originally a British Army barracks, was transformed into a hospital in 1946. During the 1948 Arab Israeli War, it became one of Gaza’s primary medical facilities. Following the war, the Egyptian administration expanded the hospital, adding various departments. Post the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel occupied Gaza, the entire Egyptian hospital staff was taken prisoner, and subsequently, the hospital underwent significant renovations and expansions under Israeli administration. This included the addition of a large basement in the 1990s, which later became a point of controversy regarding its use​​.

Use During the 2007 Fatah-Hamas Conflict

During the Fatah-Hamas conflict in June 2007, Al-Shifa Hospital became a site of violence between the two factions. The conflict led to the deaths of members of both groups within the hospital premises. Hamas also reportedly dismissed hundreds of Fatah-affiliated medical staff and used the hospital as a strategic location. This period was marked by fear and violence within the hospital, severely affecting its operation and medical staff​​.

Role in the Wars with Israel

Al-Shifa Hospital has been central during various wars between Israel and Gaza. For instance, during the 2008-2009 Gaza War, the hospital was overwhelmed with casualties due to Israeli airstrikes. Allegations surfaced that Hamas used the hospital as a military base, a claim that was difficult to verify due to restricted access to Gaza by journalists. These allegations have been a recurrent theme in subsequent conflicts, contributing to the complexity surrounding the hospital’s role in the region​​​​.

Al-Shifa Hospital in the 2023 Israel-Hamas War

Hamas Tunnels under Al-Shifa Hospital. Credit: Ohad Hemo’s FB page.

Hamas Tunnels under Al-Shifa Hospital. Credit: Ohad Hemo’s FB page.

The 2023 Israel-Hamas war brought Al-Shifa Hospital back into the spotlight. Israel and the U.S. accused Hamas of using the hospital as a command center, for storing weapons, and holding Israeli hostages.  

Legal and Ethical Implications

The use of Al-Shifa Hospital in armed conflict raises significant legal and ethical questions. Under international law, hospitals enjoy protected status, which is jeopardized if the facility is used for military purposes. The allegations and counter-allegations regarding the hospital’s use in the 2023 conflict illustrate the challenges in maintaining this protected status in a war zone. The international community’s response and the calls for investigation highlight the complexities of warfare in densely populated urban areas like Gaza​​.

Conclusion

Al-Shifa Hospital’s history is deeply intertwined with the broader geopolitical and humanitarian issues in the Gaza Strip. Its role in various conflicts, especially the recent 2023 Israel-Hamas war, underscores the challenges of operating a major medical facility in a conflict zone. The hospital not only provides essential medical services to the population of Gaza but also represents the difficulties faced in preserving humanitarian spaces in times of war.

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Lexicon of the Hamas Organization

Qasem Soleimani

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Qasem Soleimani. Credit: Bloomberg FB page.

 

Qasem Soleimani. Credit: Bloomberg FB page.

Qasem Soleimani, born on March 11, 1957, in Qanat-e Malek, Kerman Province, Iran, was a prominent figure in the Middle Eastern geopolitical landscape, particularly in the context of the Israel-Iran conflict. His career in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and his leadership of the Quds Force marked him as a key player in shaping Iran’s foreign military and political strategies.

Early Life

Soleimani’s early life was marked by hardship. He left school at 13 to work on construction sites, helping to repay his father’s debts. Influenced by the sermons of Hojjat Kamyab, a protégé of Ali Khamenei, he began engaging in revolutionary activities​​.

Military Career

Joining the IRGC in 1979 following the Iranian Revolution, Soleimani quickly advanced, playing a significant role in suppressing a Kurdish uprising and serving in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). His strategic and brave actions during the war earned him rapid promotions​​.

Command of Quds Force

Soleimani assumed command of the IRGC’s Quds Force between 1997 and 1998. Under his leadership, the Quds Force evolved into an elite unit for covert and expeditionary warfare, extending Iran’s geopolitical influence across the Middle East​​​​.

Role in the Israel-Iran Conflict

An Iranian child next to Sulimani’s cut out. Credit: Israel Defence forces FB page.

An Iranian child next to Sulimani’s cut out. Credit: Israel Defence forces FB page.

Soleimani’s strategic military interventions were pivotal in shaping the Israel-Iran conflict. He was instrumental in the creation and maintenance of Hamas’ tunnel warfare network in the Gaza Strip. This strategy effectively brought Iran’s influence to Israel’s borders, altering regional dynamics​​.

Arming and Training Iran’s Proxies

Under Soleimani’s command, the Quds Force played a crucial role in supporting and arming Iran’s proxies, like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. These groups received substantial funding, training, and weapons from Iran, enabling them to conduct operations against Israel. In Syria, instead of using a terrorist proxy, Iran directly entrenched itself, influencing the political and military actions of the Assad regime. This involvement allowed Iran, alongside Hezbollah, to establish military bases near Israel’s northern border​​​​.

Assassination

Anniversary of Sulimany’s assassination. Credit: Anadolu Agency FB page.

Anniversary of Sulimany’s assassination. Credit: Anadolu Agency FB page.

Soleimani was assassinated on January 3, 2020, by a U.S. drone strike near Baghdad International Airport. This act escalated tensions between the U.S. and Iran, sparking debate over its legality and repercussions. Iran termed the attack as state terrorism, leading to heightened hostilities, including Iran’s missile attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq​​​​.

In conclusion, Qasem Soleimani’s life and career were deeply intertwined with the military and political developments in the Middle East. His actions and strategies significantly influenced Iran’s foreign policy and its conflict with Israel. His assassination marked a pivotal moment in ongoing tensions between Iran and the United States, with far-reaching implications for regional stability and the Israel-Iran conflict dynamics.

Legacy on the Arab Israeli Conflict

Qasem Soleimani’s legacy in the Arab Israeli conflict is marked by his strategic and tactical contributions to Iran’s proxy groups in the region. His efforts in arming, training, and guiding organizations like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad significantly intensified the conflict’s dynamics. By empowering these groups, Soleimani helped solidify Iran’s role as a key player in the conflict, projecting its influence directly to Israel’s borders. His actions fostered an environment of heightened tension and frequent confrontations, leaving a lasting impact on the security and political landscape of the Middle East. His death, while altering the immediate strategic calculations, has not diminished the long-standing influence of the strategies he implemented in the region.

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Lexicon of the Hamas Organization

Saleh al-Arouri

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Saleh al-Arouri. Credit: ‘Eadio 786’ FB page

 

Saleh al-Arouri.  Credit: ‘Eadio 786’ FB page

Saleh al-Arouri is a prominent Palestinian figure known for his deep involvement with Hamas. His association with Hamas has placed Saleh al-Arouri in the spotlight of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Early Life and Involvement with Hamas

The early life of Saleh al-Arouri is marked by his gradual involvement with Hamas. This organization, known for its political and militant activities against the State of Israel, became a platform for Saleh al-Arouri to rise as a significant leader. His roles within the group have been diverse, encompassing both political strategy and militant operations.

Leadership and Strategy

Saleh al-Arouri and Ayatollah Khamenei - Iran’s former leader. Credit: Hillel Fuld’s FB page.

Saleh al-Arouri and Ayatollah Khamenei – Iran’s former leader. Credit: Hillel Fuld’s FB page.

As a leader in Hamas, Saleh al-Arouri has been involved in planning and directing various activities in the West Bank. His leadership style and strategic decisions have significantly influenced the group’s operations in this region. Saleh al-Arouri’s approach often mirrored the overarching goals and tactics of Hamas, particularly in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Assassination of Saleh al-Arouri

Saleh al-Arouri, was assassinated on January 2, 2024, in a strike on an office in the Dahieh neighborhood of Beirut, Lebanon. This strike, widely believed to be carried out by Israel, also resulted in the deaths of six other individuals, including high-ranking Hamas militants. His assassination occurred just a day before the fourth anniversary of the assassination of senior Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.

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Lexicon of the Hamas Organization

The Kfar Aza Massacre

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Kfar Aza after October 7th attack. Credit: ‘חנה הייבלום’ FB page.

 

Kfar Aza after October 7th attack. Credit: ‘חנה הייבלום’ FB page.

The Kfar Aza massacre, which took place on October 7, 2023, stands as a brutal chapter in the history of the Israel-Arab conflict. This article synthesizes information from multiple sources to provide a comprehensive understanding of the event.

Background and History of Kfar Aza

Kfar Aza, a kibbutz situated about 3 kilometers from the Gaza Strip border, was a peaceful community of over 700 residents before the attack. The kibbutz is typical of many such communities in southern Israel, known for their modest architecture and a sense of close-knit communal living.

The Attack on October 7, 2023

Entire Kutz family murdered in Kfar Aza. Credit: ‘ישראל ביתנו’ FB page.

Entire Kutz family murdered in Kfar Aza. Credit: ‘ישראל ביתנו’ FB page.

On this fateful day, approximately 70 Hamas militants infiltrated Kfar Aza, launching a surprise attack that left the kibbutz in ruins. The attack was part of a broader offensive against over 20 towns and villages in southern Israel. The militants targeted the west side of the community first, an area where families with young children resided. They brutally massacred residents, torched cars and homes, and abducted several hostages. Reports indicate that the militants took women, children, and senior citizens among the hostages back to Gaza.

Casualties and Aftermath

The attack led to the deaths of 52 people at Kfar Aza, with more than 20 missing. The massacre was characterized by extreme brutality, including claims of beheadings, dismemberment, and burning of victims alive. 

Survivors’ Stories

Survivors’ accounts paint a harrowing picture of the massacre. One survivor, Avidor Schwartzman, described how he and his family hid in a safe room for over 20 hours, witnessing the devastation of their community upon their rescue. Another resident, Gili Okev, recounted spending seven hours trapped in a safe room while the terrorists were just outside. Hanan Dann, a resident who survived with his family in a safe room, shared the tragic story of the Almog-Goldstein family, part of which was killed and part abducted to Gaza.

Rebuilding and Reflection

Despite the devastation, some residents expressed their determination to rebuild and not let the terrorists dictate their future. Gili Okev stated, “We will come back here and we’ll rebuild this place and it will flourish and grow”. This sentiment underscores the resilience and spirit of the community in the face of tragedy.

Conclusion

The Kfar Aza massacre was a tragic event that has deeply impacted the residents and the broader Israeli society. The stories of the survivors and the lost, along with the community’s resolve to rebuild, highlight both the brutalities of Hamas and the unyielding human spirit of the people of Kfar Aza.

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