The White House on Wednesday said it did not “OK” Israel’s military raid of al-Shifa hospital in northern Gaza in an attempt to deflect responsibility for the attack.
Just hours before Israel launched the raid, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby backed Israel’s claim that Hamas had a command center under the hospital without providing any evidence.
Hamas released a statement that said President Biden was “fully responsible” for the Israeli raid on the hospital, pointing to the intelligence claim. “The White House and the Pentagon’s adoption of the false narrative, claiming that the resistance is using al-Shifa medical complex for military purposes, was a green light for the occupation to commit more massacres against civilians,” Hamas said.
Despite the unconditional military support for Israel’s war, which includes near-daily weapons shipments, Kirby denied that the US was responsible for the raid.
“My delivery of some downgraded information yesterday, that, the timing of that really came after work by the intelligence community to prepare that information for downgrade. It has nothing to do with any operational timing or any decision-making by the Israeli Defense Forces,” Kirby said.
“We did not give an OK to the military operations around the hospital in similar fashion to the fact that we didn’t, you know, we don’t give OKs to their other tactical operations. These are Israeli military operations that they plan and they execute on, you know, in accordance with their own established procedures that the United States is not, was not involved in,” he added.
Kirby claimed that the hospital attack was “not a focus” of a call President Biden held with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday night. He again backed the Israeli narrative about the hospital, saying the US was “comfortable with our own intelligence assessment about the degree to which Hamas was and is using Al Shifa Hospital as a commanding control node, as a storage facility underneath.”
There is a significant underground basement underneath al-Shifa that was actually built by Israel as part of an expansion project in the 1980s when it ruled the Gaza Strip. Israeli media reports have previously claimed that Hamas connected its tunnels to the bunker.
So far, Israel has failed to produce evidence to back its claim that Hamas has a command center under the hospital. The Israeli military presented a photo of weapons it claimed to have found at the hospital, which showed only 10 rifles, a few magazines, and military vests, nothing indicating a significant command center. The IDF also published a video on X showing a spokesman walking through part of the hospital and showing guns and other equipment. The video was later deleted, and a new edited version was then posted.
Al-Shifa is still full of hundreds of patients who doctors are warning will continue to die due to the lack of power and other desperately needed resources. Among the patients are dozens of newborn and premature babies who were removed from incubators when the power went out over the weekend. At least three of the babies have died.