By The Epoch Times Staff
The White House said on Tuesday that the Hamas terrorist group has a command node beneath Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, where weapons are stored, calling the terrorist group’s action “a war crime.”
“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 support their military operations,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters aboard Air Force One.
He confirmed that Palestinian terrorists operate a command-and-control node from Al-Shifa and may be hiding weapons beneath the hospital, justifying Israel’s heavy attacks on the facility.
“That is a war crime,” Mr. Kirby added.
He stated that the information comes from a variety of intelligence sources and methods.
“I think you can understand that we’re not going to be able to provide a whole lot of granular detail on that. We have to protect sources and methods,” he said.
Israel has accused Hamas of using hospitals to conceal command as well as using hospital patients as human shields. Both Hamas and the hospitals in Gaza have denied these allegations.
Mr. Kirby admitted that the situation has made Israel’s operations in Gaza more difficult.
“To be clear, we do not support striking a hospital from the air. We do not want to see a firefight in a hospital where innocent people, helpless people, sick people are simply trying to get the medical care they deserve, not to be caught in the crossfire,” Mr. Kirby added.
“Hospitals and patients must be protected. And this just points out how challenging military operation is because Hamas has deeply embedded itself within the civilian population.”
He also stated that Hamas’s actions do not lessen Israel’s responsibility to protect people in Gaza and that the administration will maintain an active dialogue with its counterparts regarding this matter.
On Oct. 7, Hamas terrorists launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing over a thousand civilians and taking hundreds of hostages, including at least 30 Americans. Israel has responded with air and ground attacks in Gaza, which Hamas controls.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently made a televised address in which he pushed back against international calls for a ceasefire. Israel will keep fighting with “full force,” he vowed, until all Hamas terrorists in Gaza are eliminated.
The Israeli leader also declared that after the war, which is currently in its sixth week, Gaza will be demilitarized and Israel will retain security control, suggesting that Israeli forces will be able to freely enter Gaza to hunt out terrorists.