Middle East Roundup: Is Shifa Hospital really a Hamas ops hub?

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Raiding Gaza’s largest hospital, another communications blackout, Israel’s goals in Gaza – the Middle East this week.

Raiding Gaza’s largest hospital | Pushing people out of southern Gaza ‘safe zones’ | Strip being cut off from communications with the outside world  | What are Israel’s goals in Gaza? | Here is the Middle East this week:

Death haunts hospital corridors

Gaza is losing its connection with the outside world as its telecom towers lose power, which means it’s getting more difficult to bring you stories of the people trapped inside.

On Wednesday, the unthinkable happened when Israeli forces raided al-Shifa Hospital where hundreds of patients were being treated and thousands of people had sought refuge.

Many people had already been watching al-Shifa, aghast, as one premature baby after the other died at Gaza’s biggest hospital, starved as it was of the fuel needed to run its generators.

The lack of electricity — not to mention medicines — also means cancer patients face a horrific prospect.

As do the people who rely on regular dialysis treatments and babies in incubators in other hospitals who need help to breathe and thrive.

Israel says attacking hospitals is OK because it is actually attacking “Hamas operatives” hiding within them. But international law protects hospitals except in very specific cases, which al-Shifa is not one of, so who is Israel making those statements for?

And as the international community finally begins to speak up more forcefully about Israel’s targeting of civilians and health installations, we pay tribute to the Indonesian medical volunteers who chose to stay with their Palestinian colleagues.

If Gaza were your city…

Do you know how much of it would be destroyed in Israel’s bombardment? We’ve mapped the Gaza destruction onto several international capitals.

INTERACTIVE - If Gaza was your city - New York City-1699867238[AJ Labs]

How can this much pain be comprehended?

A cheerful toddler who just took her first steps a couple of weeks ago found herself buried alive under tonnes of rubble when her home was bombed by Israel in the middle of the night.

Her nine-month pregnant mother? Dead, as were her twin foetuses who had struggled to be born when the bomb struck. Her father was also dead. Grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins … all dead. Melissa was left with one surviving aunt, a paralysed body, and pain.

There’s a man at al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir el-Balah, and his job for the past 15 years has been to shroud the people who have died there. But, Abu Saher wept as he told us, those past years are nothing compared to the level of horrific human mutilations he is seeing now.

Finally, we bring you a teacher’s plea as she checks feverishly every day to see if any of her 5th graders have been killed in an Israeli attack.

What is Hezbollah thinking?

The Lebanese group, and its leader Hassan Nasrallah, have a lot of expectations to contend with. Widely seen as the region’s strongest militia, many were hoping that it would open up a wide second front with Israel, including the Palestinian refugees who live in Lebanon.

But Nasrallah has a complicated line to walk, as he balances domestic pressure against him with Hezbollah’s role as part of the region’s “Islamic resistance”.

As one skirmish follows another and Israeli attacks hit deeper in Lebanese territory, the question becomes: How long will Hezbollah hold back?

If the tunnels are the issue, why not go underground?

Israel has said repeatedly that its goal is to clear the tunnels under Gaza used by Hamas fighters.

Yet, fighting remains above ground and any victories Israel claims seem to be largely against clusters of unarmed civilians, causing incredible destruction as it draws one weapon after the other out of its large arsenal.

Our strategic analyst posits that this is likely because Israel knows that going into the tunnels will be a long, dangerous campaign for it.

He also provides a step-by-step breakdown of how Israel would have to operate in order to actually start taking over those feared tunnels.

While the world looks towards Gaza …

While Israel pounds Gaza, Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, and his ally Russia seem to have seized the opportunity to step up bombing rebel-held areas in the country.

Al-Assad gave an impassioned speech at an Arab-Islamic summit in Riyadh this week, decrying violations against civilians in Gaza, and eliciting a lot of contempt among the civilians being bombed in Syria.

The US is getting involved as well, in Syria and in Iraq, where its troops have been attacked and exchanged fire with enemy combatants… Will it get worse?

Briefly

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Quote of the Week

“We’re working on cases now that we’ve never seen in our medical textbooks.” | Dr Ayman Harb, head of the orthopaedic department at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital.

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