I’ve visited Gaza City’s major hospital, Al-Shifa, numerous times. Its expansive grounds attracted Gaza residents who considered it as a safe place to camp and seek refuge.
It currently serves as a symbol of the conflict between the Israeli invasion of Gaza, which resulted in a large number of deaths and destruction, and the acute humanitarian situation that existed inside the hospital.
There has been much discussion about the Israelis bringing in fuel and incubators in addition to targeting the Hamas military command, citing a very worrying report that preterm babies at Al-Shifa Hospital had to be removed from their incubators.
Still, the problem isn’t a scarcity of incubators; rather, it’s a shortage of fuel. Israel claimed that petroleum would be stolen and used by Hamas, thus up until Wednesday, it has prohibited fuel imports into the Gaza Strip.
On Wednesday, 25,000 liters of petrol were let entry, but only for UN trucks. According to the UN, fuel entry is still prohibited for hospitals, water and sanitation infrastructure, and generators.
Israel claims that Hamas should use its own fuel reserves to power the generators that provide the hospital’s electrical system.
Thus, while there are many threads coming together in the events that are taking place in Al-Shifa Hospital this morning, the war will not end when this specific surgery is completed.
Meanwhile, the US, the UK, and France have been using language that is hardening the international position against the Israeli offensive in recent days. This is best summed up by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement last weekend that “far too many” Palestinian civilians have been killed.
Two running clocks
The pattern of Israel’s military actions is being repeated here, which is why the Israelis knew this shift was coming. They discuss how various clocks run at all times during an operation.
The first is military: what is the timeframe required for them to achieve their goals? The other is diplomatic: before Israel’s allies demand that it cease the operation immediately because it has killed enough civilians, how long does it have the right to carry out that operation?
Israel believes it has more time than usual because of the sheer number of people who died in the Hamas attacks on October 7. The amount of casualties in Gaza indicates, in my opinion, that they used a lot of force in their attack.
According to some estimations, the Israel Defense Forces will carry on operating in this manner for a few more weeks, but I believe the forces are mobilizing among their allies to demand that their military strategy be altered.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that this should end; neither the British nor the Americans have called for a ceasefire as of yet.