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Israeli forces bomb al-Wafa Hospital in Gaza City
Published Wednesday 23/07/2014 (updated) 23/07/2014 23:50
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The father of a Palestinian girl screams as a relative carries her into
the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahia, after she was injured by an
Israeli strike on the northern Gaza Strip, on July 22, 2014 (AFP Marco
Longari)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli warplanes on Wednesday bombed a central Gaza City hospital after the army claimed militants opened fire from the premises, while a UN human rights chief warned that abuses by Hamas did not justify possible war crimes by Israel.

The Israeli military said in a statement that they had "targeted specific sites" in the al-Wafa rehabilitation hospital compound "in light of several occasions in which fire was opened" and "despite repeated warnings against such activities."

The military last bombed the hospital on Thursday, forcing doctors and patients -- 14 of whom were paralyzed or in a coma -- to flee the premises.

The Israeli military has repeatedly claimed hospitals are being used as launching grounds for Palestinian militants, giving those inside only minutes to flee before subjecting them to bombing raids and shelling.

On Monday, Israeli shells left four dead and wounded 60 at the al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah.

The military said that on Wednesday warnings were also given for civilians to vacate the hospital, adding that "warnings have been conveyed directly to the hospital administration and other Palestinian officials."

"The hospital grounds and its immediate surroundings have been repeatedly utilized by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a command center, rocket launching site, and a post" for militants to fire at soldiers, the military added.

Reports in the Israeli media indicated around 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday that Israel had given warning to Gaza's main hospital al-Shifa of an impending strike, but an Israeli army spokeswoman contacted by Ma'an denied the claims.

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Health, later denied the claims as well.

The bombing comes on the 16th day of the Israeli offensive on Gaza, which has left more than 650 Palestinians dead, more than 4,000 injured, and more than 135,000 displaced in the coastal enclave of 1.7 million people.

The assault has left hospitals overflowing with injured amid a severe lack of medical supplies caused by the seven-year long siege of the Gaza Strip by Israel.

The attacks have also raised alarm around the world, as more than 50 mosques have been bombed as well as thousands of homes.

Israel's military actions in the Gaza Strip could amount to war crimes, UN rights chief Navi Pillay said Wednesday.

"There seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes," Pillay told an emergency session on Israel's Gaza offensive at the UN Human Rights Council, citing attacks that have killed Palestinian civilians, including children.

Pillay added that the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israeli civilian areas does not justify war crimes on the Israeli side.



She also said Israeli children and other civilians also had a right to live without constant fear of rocket attacks.

"Once again, the principles of distinction and precaution are clearly not being observed during such indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas by Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups," she said.

The 46-nation council -- which is the United Nations' top human rights forum -- was poised to call for an international inquiry into Israel's offensive in the Palestinian territories.

The meeting was called by Arab and fellow Muslim-majority nations.

It was set to vote on a resolution lodged by Palestine -- which has observer status at the UN -- condemning "the widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms" since Israel launched its crackdown last month to stem rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.

The resolution also called on the international community to "urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry" tasked with probing "all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip."

The aim, it said, was to "establish the facts and circumstances of such violations and of the crimes perpetrated and to identify those responsible, to make recommendations, in particular, on accountability measures, all with a view to avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring that those responsible are held accountable, and on ways and means to protect civilians against any further assaults."

It also called for the "immediate International Protection for the Palestinian people" and requested that Switzerland, as guardian of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in warfare, organize an urgent conference on the situation in the region.

The Gaza offensive, which marks the worst Israeli assault on Gaza since two attacks in 2008-9 and 2012, has already claimed the lives of 650 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 31 Israelis, all but two of whom were soldiers.

"The right of the Palestinian people to resist occupation cannot justify the launching of thousands of rockets and mortars directed against Israeli civilians," the UN's rights monitor for the region, Makarim Wibisono, told the session.

"Rockets attacks cannot justify the disproportionate use by Israel of air, sea and ground firepower against targets, including tunnels and rocket launchers, amidst a population of 1.7 million people trapped in one of the most densely populated areas of the world," he added.

AFP contributed to this report.
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1 ) Levi / USA
23/07/2014 14:36
Bombed just for the hell of it, or because Hamas terrorists were shooting at the IDF from within it?

2 ) Mel / USA
23/07/2014 14:48
MULTIPLE HITS now by occupying Israel's sovereign MILITARY on places protect under INTERNATIONAL LAWS!Hospitals,Mosques,Churches,UNRWA shelters,SCHOOLS,EVEN CEMETARIES! ALL TIGHTLY PACKED WITH CIVILIAN REFUGEE.Gaza is ONE BIG REFUGEE PRISON! Is this the crime(again)that makes USG say STOP? Or did Obama give Israel 3-4-5 weeks? 3,000 dead for 3 dead Israeli illegal colonists.1,000 injured "Arabs"for every injured Israeli-Jewish('..Shall not follow an ILLEGAL command')military occupier?WAR CRIMES!

3 ) Dimi / Germany
23/07/2014 15:01
If the Gazans were real heroes they would take up arms and fight Hamas. The earlier they topple Hamas the better for the Gazans.

4 ) Tibi / Tubas
23/07/2014 15:17
Israeli forces bombed ISLAMIC MILITANTs, who were
definitely engaging in WAR CRIMES, by using the al-Wafa Hospital,
as a high point from which to fire upon Israeli forces !!




5 ) David / USA
23/07/2014 15:23
So many errors in this article. First, it's not 'occupied' territory, it's 'disputed' territory- otherwise Jordan 'occupied' the west bank after 1948 and the Arabs never had a problem with it, so that argument falls apart. Second, the hospitals are short on supplies because of Israel? Yet Hamas had enough money to buy thousands of rockets, thousands of TONS of cement to build tunnels, and hundreds of pretty uniforms and machine guns. All the ills that exist in Gaza are due to Hamas, not Israel.

6 ) m / m
23/07/2014 15:26
Good job mentioning it was totally emptied over a week ago.

7 ) Levi / USA
23/07/2014 15:28
Was that before or after Hamas started shooting at Israeli soldiers from within the hospital?

8 ) Home of the Brave / Freedom
23/07/2014 15:29
Here is the real news: Israel had repeatedly warned international agencies and the Palestinian head of the hospital directly about the gunfire from the hospital, as well as several other senior Palestinian officials - but to no avail. Instead, in the past several hours the intensity of the attacks has only increased, posing a real and imminent danger to the lives of soldiers operating in the area, forcing the IDF to respond with fire of its own.

9 ) Kol Hakavod / UK
23/07/2014 15:29
It is so simple. Do not shell are civilian air ports, and do not use your hospitals for weapons and as militant's bases.

10 ) Khadija Suleman / Uk
23/07/2014 15:56
There is proof from Journalists in Gaza that Gaza IS AN open-air prison

11 ) Khadija Suleman / UK
23/07/2014 16:04
Moshe Feiglin, Deputy Speaker of the Israeli Knesset, and an elected lawmaker representing the Likud Party of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has used an Op Ed in the Israel National News to call for the ‘elimination’ of Gaza as a final solution to the ‘Palestinian Problem’. Before we address Feiglin’s words, it is important to understand them in the context of Israel’s deeds when it comes to Palestine in general, and Gaza in particular: There are more than 5 million Palestinian refugees liv

12 ) Why / Cant
23/07/2014 16:28
they just vote Hamas out of the next government? Because they like what Hamas stands for. Basically, they asked for this. They voted for it.

13 ) Neve / the World
23/07/2014 16:48
David, under international law, Palestine IS occupied territory and Israel is violating international conventions it has ratified. The blockade Israel has imposed on Gaza since 2007 is indeed the cause of the supplies shortage...

14 ) Rafael / USA
23/07/2014 17:41
Hospital was evacuated of patients one week ago according the Palestinian doctor who was in charge of it. There was about one full battalion of Hamas terrorist fighter using this location to fight. They were pulling out their dead and wounded Hamas this morning during a local humanitarian cease fire. How come no one reports of the 100s of dead Hamas and 1000s wounded in this paper? Do you not want the public to know the truth.

15 ) Heather / UK
23/07/2014 17:50
@David/USA. Definitely occupied territory just as the West Bank was occupied by Jordan. Palestinians definitely had a problem with that! 80% of Gazans are refugees. If Israel had allowed them back to their homes in 1948 Gaza would not be so poor. Israeli occupation meant destruction and restrictions on economy and goods for 40 years, obviously blockade worse. Hamas like your govt. like mine, used money for arms. As pacifist I object to defence priority over health etc. I suspect you don't.

16 ) Tobias / USA
23/07/2014 18:02
* When Hamas initiated the war two weeks ago, the Palestinian militant group was so hamstrung, politically, economically, and diplomatically,
that Hamas leaders felt they had nothing to lose, and
* When Hamas leaders are taught by Israel and International community leaders, that they have nothing to gain, wars between Israel and Hamas may finally stop breaking out at a frequency of about every two years !!

17 ) Heather / UK
23/07/2014 18:47
Apologies. I should have said most governments prioritise arms purchases over health care/social services etc. True defence means building friendships/ respecting others' rights/ championing equality in an unjust world/ negotiating / cooperating /working with international bodies etc, not building up huge armouries, 'playing' and 'bullying' with them. Hard to see what non-violent methods are open to Palestinians in Gaza. Sixty six years and the world has still not listened...

18 ) Terry / Latvia
23/07/2014 18:52
Look at this guy who graduated from Hasbara class, arranged by the Israeli government for Israeli students: 5 ) David / USA: So many errors in this article. First, it's not 'occupied' territory, it's 'disputed' territory....etc. lies...lies.

19 ) Emily / USA
23/07/2014 19:57
The IDF footage shows multiple secondary explosions from the hospital, indicating that rockets intended for shooting at the civilian population of Israel were stored there. Might using a hospital for military purposes be some sort of war crime?

20 ) Levi / USA
23/07/2014 23:51
If Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists set up a command center in that hospital and shoots at the Israelis from within it, what do you expect IDF to do?

21 ) Yates / Malaysia
24/07/2014 07:53
Levi, The answer is to treat the Palestinians with dignity and not like how the Nazi treated the jewish community

22 ) Yaron / USA
24/07/2014 18:17
Gaza is occupied territory? Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, at which time muslim terrorists turn the place into a launching pad to shoot rockets into Israel's civilian population centers. Muslim terrorists took millions in foreign aid and used it to build an elaborate system of tunnels into Israel from which they could attack Jews. Yet Israel continues to supply Gaza with electricity, fuel and food. They use leaflets, phone calls and sms messages to warn innocents. War crimes? I think not.
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