OPINION: al-Shifa hospital, hostages, Hamas and a question of media impartiality

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OPINION: al-Shifa hospital, hostages, Hamas and a question of media impartiality

EXCLUSIVE: How CCTV evidence means aid agencies can no longer play 'see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil', writes the European Leadership Network's policy manager

IDF says it has evidence that Hamas took hostages to Al Shifa hospital in Gaza. Courtesy: IDF
IDF says it has evidence that Hamas took hostages to Al Shifa hospital in Gaza. Courtesy: IDF

This week’s news cycle has seen an unrelenting focus on the Al-Shifa hospital, with ever increasing media scepticism turning into hostility towards and condemnation of Israel, as it searches for hostages and pushes forward with its mission to ensure Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure and its ability to operate as a terrorist organisation are destroyed.

The images of the suffering within the hospital compound should underscore the cruelty of Hamas, as they continued to fight fiercely around the hospital rather than leave or capitulate.

Global rolling news, across almost every outlet, has taken the dangerous position that Israel are not to be believed in regards to Hamas’s presence in Al-Shifa; in spite of the irrefutable evidence of the CCTV footage that has emerged of a Thai and Nepalese citizen being brought into the hospital, not through Hamas’s tunnel beneath the hospital, but through the front door of the hospital itself.

The hostages were wrestled through the main entrance and as the CCTV follows the hostages’ journey through the corridors of the hospital, the images show the medical staff holding doors open for one hostage on a stretcher, as well as their gun-toting and meat cleaver-wielding captors.

*The images are full of witnesses, staff and casual by-standers, to Hamas using the hospital in the immediate aftermath of the 7/10 terrorist attack, and of hostages being present there. It is also hard to imagine a scenario in which the original construction of the tunnel, by Hamas and for Hamas, was not witnessed and at least commented on by medical staff and aid agencies operating out of the hospital.

The evidence shows the denials from medical staff and aid agencies such as Medical Aid for Palestine, The Red Cross, The World Health Organisation, and The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to be what they truly are – a game of ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ in relation to terrorism and hostage taking.

Their denial of Hamas’s presence at the facility is now proven to be implausible and raises serious questions regarding their motivations in doing so. It should shame the likes of the BBC, Sky News et al in regards to their soft-touch questioning of aid agencies (operating out of the hospital) in particular, regarding whether they knew of Hamas’s presence or that of the hostages – for which the answer to both questions is now a resounding ‘yes’.

Pic: Gemma Ricketts

The CEO of Medical Aid for Palestine who was interviewed by Sky News, for example, managed to do an entire interview on the situation in Al-Shifa with the only mention of Hamas being wrapped within a criticism of Israel for refusing to give them fuel.

The ultimate revelation of the CCTV footage from Al-Shifa is that it casts serious doubts over the impartiality of aid agencies and the talking heads of medical staff – both of which have effectively spent their time in the hospital as spokespeople for Hamas on Sky News and the like.

While some medical staff have spoken out regarding their knowledge of Hamas’s command and control centre within the hospital, albeit anonymously, others such as Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta (a familiar talking head on rolling news in the UK) has openly stated that his family have been visited by UK counter-terror police which begs the question why media outlets have taken him at his word, vociferously criticizing Israel and calling for a ceasefire, as an impartial voice of reason.

This sin of omission (in not revealing the truth in regards to the hospital’s role in 7/10 and beyond) by staff and aid agencies may well come from their fear losing access to Gaza and the images which in effect promote Hamas’s cause, such as ceasefire; but the far worst sin is that of media outlets in refusing to acknowledge the irrefutable evidence that Israel has produced and continual attempts to discredit them and their mission to find their hostages and eradicate Hamas.

  • Gemma Ricketts is ELNET UK’s policy and communications manager
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