So These Are Israel's New Heroes?

Israel's recent military operations in Palestinian hospitals are a blatant violation of the Geneva Convention, and make you wonder how low the country can sink.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

This is the next step in our decline: the storming of hospitals and abducting patients from their beds. The undercover forces carry out another kind of war crime, clearly against the Geneva Convention, and Israelis applaud in wonder. Heroes overcoming the wounded and medical staff. Over the weekend, the current affairs show “Uvda” (“Fact”) disgustingly salivated in awe at their actions.

It’s not hard to imagine what would happen if a Palestinian terrorist were to break into an Israeli hospital, abduct a patient from his bed and kill the cousin who was nursing him. But when the police counterterrorism unit and Shin Bet security service do it, they are cheered here. Next time Israeli propagandists complain about the use Palestinians make of hospitals, they should be reminded of Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron, and the private hospital in Nablus, where our undercover heroes raided, confiscated, abducted and killed.

The first violent raid was at the end of last month in East Jerusalem. Dozens of armed police twice raided Makassed Hospital, looking for the medical file of a 15-year-old boy suspected of throwing a firebomb. The intrusion in Nablus followed a week later. Anybody who didn’t hear about it saw it on “Uvda,” which loves to cheer actions like these without asking too many questions about their legality, morality or necessity. The target was a wounded member of the cell that murdered Eitam and Na’ama Henkin at the beginning of October.

“Not a simple operation,” “Uvda” explained, as if discussing the bombing of a nuclear reactor site in Iran. The forces dressed up as people accompanying an injured man in a wheelchair.

“Did you know what room he was in?” the worshipful reporter asked the daring commander. “We knew,” the warrior replied. “And what bed?” “We knew.” Wow, way to go! “We had our weapons drawn,” the officer said, describing the heroism of Israel in its war against nurses and orderlies. For a moment, it looked as if the real purpose of the action was the television segment – which army magazine Bamahane would have been ashamed to publish in its very worst days.

But this record was broken with the storming of Al-Ahli. This time, at dawn, the forces raided, seeking a suspect in a stabbing. Rambo dressed up like an expectant mother – what a stroke of genius! And the objective was another wounded man pulled from his bed. On the way, as they say, they killed the man’s cousin, who was just coming out of the bathroom and tried to attack them, they said. It’s not clear how or if at all.

“Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict” – Article 18, Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory. And Article 19: “The protection to which civilian hospitals are entitled shall not cease unless they are used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy ... The fact that sick or wounded members of the armed forces are nursed in these hospitals ... shall not be considered to be acts harmful to the enemy.”

This is crystal clear, but not in Israel, which thinks treaties and international law are very important but don’t apply to it; that it is a special case, a country that is fighting for its life in the face of the devil that also hides in hospitals. But this is precisely the reason why these treaties were formulated.

These are essentially acts of revenge, for show. The wanted individuals can be taken into custody after they recover, without violating the principle of the protection of hospitals and without creating anxiety among thousands of sick and injured people. Next thing we know, a new unit will be established for fighting in hospitals: maybe a specialist labor room unit, or a force that specializes in raiding the ICU (there are more nurses there).

Beyond the ridiculous and the moral pall, the question asked by the physician from Nablus, Dr. Samir Khayat, reverberates: “From your point of view, are they heroes?” Yes, Dr. Khayat, these are Israel’s heroes.

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