The Legal Justification for the Raid on Shifa Hospital

(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University) Pnina Sharvit Baruch and Tammy Caner - Hospitals are granted "special protection" under the laws of war due to their humanitarian role. This special protection may be removed if a party to the conflict makes use of medical assets outside of their humanitarian function and exploits them for combat purposes. This includes situations in which a hospital is used as a headquarters, a hiding place for fighters, a base for launching attacks, an observation post to transmit information of military value, or an ammunition repository - all uses attributed to Hamas in Shifa Hospital. As a result, Shifa lost its immunity and became a legitimate military target for attack. To remove the special protection of a hospital, the laws of war require the attacking party to provide due warning to stop the misuse and a reasonable time for the warning to be heeded. In recent weeks, Israel has publicly warned against the misuse by Hamas of Shifa hospital and enabled ample time to stop this misuse. In addition, Israel provided medical equipment and other supplies, including incubators, baby food, oxygen, and fuel, as well as means to evacuate patients. Unfortunately, the international community's response plays into the hands of Hamas, which seeks to pressure Israel to cease its attacks and thus limit Israel's ability to dismantle the Hamas military infrastructure. As such, it provides Hamas with an incentive to continue operating out of hospitals and use civilians as human shields, while turning the laws of war into weapons against those who respect them. This undermines the primary aim of these laws - to protect civilians during war. Col. (res.) Adv. Pnina Sharvit Baruch, former head of the International Law Department of the IDF Military Advocate General (MAG) Unit, heads the program on law and national security at INSS, where Tammy Caner is the coordinator of the program.

2023-11-20 00:00:00

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive