The Real Reason Israel Is Attacking Gaza’s Hospitals

Israeli forces Outside Al-Shifa’ Hospital, (screenshot: Al Jazeera),

Israeli propaganda is bad, really bad, comically bad

There are fake stories about Hamas beheading babies, and even beheading a fetus. There are outlandish claims of “mass rape so brutal that they broke their victims’ pelvis – women, grandmothers, children.” 

There is a fake Al Qaeda manual found on a dead Hamas fighter emblazoned with “Al Qaeda” in English on its cover. There’s a pristine copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf found in a child’s room of a Hamas “terrorism hub.”

There’s the Israeli video of a fake nurse at al-Shifa Hospital ranting about Hamas stealing morphine and fuel that was seen more than 12 million times before being deleted. There’s Israeli footage of a Hamas tunnel under a hospital that turned out to be a Swedish Cold War-era bunker

There’s video of IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari, the face of Israeli propaganda, touring a fake Hamas bunker where he said hostages were imprisoned under a children’s hospital. In the video Hagari points to a schedule in Arabic posted to a wall where “every terrorist writes his name” to take turns guarding hostages. In reality, the paper was a shift timetable with dates and days and no names.

As laughably bad as the propaganda is, it gets worse. After besieging hospitals in North Gaza for a week, Israel says it has proof that the largest hospital, al-Shifa, was a Hamas command center. Its evidence? An IDF video showing “about 10 guns.” 

That’s it  — 10 guns, some ammo, vests, uniforms. That’s all the “evidence” the Israelis could muster in a sprawling 10-acre complex with six separate hospitals and medical facilities. Shifa is so large that in October, 50,000 Gazans were sheltering there from relentless Israeli bombing. 

That simple fact, 117,000 displaced Gazans had taken refuge at Shifa and other hospitals in North Gaza, points to the real story. On Oct. 13 Israel issued orders for hospitals in North Gaza to evacuate, which the World Health Organization called a “death sentence” for thousands of injured and sick patients. Amnesty International said the orders amounted to “forced evacuation” and would violate international humanitarian law. 

On Oct. 14, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights warned that “in the name of self-defense, Israel is seeking to justify what would amount to ethnic cleansing.”

That is Israel’s main goal in its war on Gaza hospitals. It is attacking places with the greatest protection under international law to show no place is safe. Routing terrified refugees from shelter in hospitals is necessary for Israel to ethnically cleanse the northern half and perhaps the entirety of Gaza.

The Associated Press, which tends to toe the Israeli line, portrayed the forced displacement in humanitarian terms. Israel “urges mass evacuation,” it told civilians “those who want to save their life, please go south,” and said it would take “extensive efforts to avoid harming civilians.”

The AP, New York Times NPRNBC News and other outlets fail to use terms like “illegal,” “criminal,” or “unlawful” to describe Israeli actions despite U.N. and humanitarian organization condemnations of the siege, forced displacement, and indiscriminate bombardment as war crimes. Virtually no outlet connects the ethnic cleansing on the ground in Gaza to open incitement for ethnic cleansing by Israeli officials in the media. 

Western media subservience explains why Israeli propaganda is so lazy. It doesn’t care. Israel knows corporate media will print its brazen lies. Or if the propaganda really stretches credulity, like the fake nurse or Swedish tunnels, the media won’t mention it. And Israel knows the media won’t debunk its propaganda or explain there is a well-documented history of Israel lying and being forced to retract its falsehoods.

Apart from Democracy Now and Al-Jazeera, which provide far more honest coverage of Israel’s war than the corporate media, there is an absence of reporting that links Israel’s war on hospitals to how it is conducting a new Nakba, ethnic cleansing, of Palestinians, more savage than instances in 1948 and 1967. 

There appears to be only one report, from Reuters on Oct. 13, that mentions Israel’s forced evacuation scheme to another Nakba, though Reuters fails to use the term ethnic cleansing and the report is in the context of Hamas leaders calling on Gazans not to leave, implying they are the ones committing illegal acts.

The corporate media are a reeking mountain of maggot-infested shit, unable to do their basic job of explaining what is happening in the world: Israel is attacking hospitals because they are the last significant obstacle to the ethnic cleansing of Gaza, and possibly to genocide. 

Instead, the reports above regurgitate Israeli propaganda that Hamas is preventing evacuees from fleeing, Hamas is using human shields, Hamas is refusing Israeli supplies of fuel and aid for babies in intensive care. 

It’s important to note that Israeli propaganda about Hamas using hospitals for military purposes serves other ends as well. 

First, portraying hospitals as Hamas nerve centers justifies attacking them. As I explained in my last article, corporate media swallow the lie that Hamas uses human shields, which makes all Palestinians legitimate targets. It doesn’t matter that there is no evidence Hamas uses human shields. Merely saying it is proof that reinforces the original lie.

Second, portraying Palestinian children as little Nazis dehumanizes them. Crude Israeli government cartoons show Palestinian babies filled with terrorism and violence and Israeli babies filled with love and peace. No matter how many Palestinian children Israel kills, officially more than 4,500 as of Nov. 10, they are “deserving of their suffering.”

Third, proving Chomsky’s principle that “It’s all there in the historical record,” the Washington Post made the remarkable admission that Israel attacked al-Shifa Hospital to “pressure Hamas to reach a deal on hostage releases.” This admits Israel is using hospitals as a bargaining chip, talk of Hamas bunkers and weapons cache is a lie, and the attacks on hospitals are then deliberate state terrorism and war crimes.

Fourth, attacking hospitals means the Gaza Health Ministry can no longer release daily death tolls as hospitals are a primary site to collect data on those killed by Israel. The ministry stopped issuing casualty updates on Nov. 10 when the death toll had soared past 11,000. The fact the ministry stopped issuing new death counts is added proof that Biden was lying when he said he had “no confidence” in the Palestinian death toll. If the ministry is just making up numbers then why would it stop?

Corporate media are too servile to state power to say that, and too cowardly to point out that preventing the health ministry from issuing updated tolls is a propaganda boon for Israel. This is almost certainly intentional on Israel’s part. No longer does it have to contend with a growing outcry each day as the death toll grows ever higher.

Fifth, attacking hospitals is a new Nakba. Israel is telling the world it’s going to ethnically cleanse Gaza. It is doing it right now. It’s happening in front of the entire world. But the corporate media can’t see it. 

By Arun Gupta

Arun Gupta is an investigative reporter who has written for the Guardian, the Daily Beast, the Intercept, and The Washington Post. He is author of the forthcoming, Apocalypse Chow: A Junk-Food Loving Chef Explains How America Created the Most Revolutionary Food System in History (The New Press), and leads food and history tours around New York City. Email him at with questions, comments, or to join a food tour. Read all of Arun’s writings on politics, history, and food at Substack.