The IDF Spokesperson's Unit has ramped up its efforts to rebuff the criticism of Israel and present Hamas as a group which uses innocent civilians as human shields. On Monday afternoon the IDF publishes visuals displaying rocket launchers placed at a number of civilian sites, like playgrounds, schools, and hospitals.
Gaza inforgraphic (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit twitter)
Shortly after these photos were published, the Palestinians reported that the IDF had shelled the Shuhada Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah with artillery fire. According to the Palestinians, four people were killed and some 60 others wounded. The Palestinians said the hospital's ER and children's ward were hit. A member of the hospital's staff said 12 shells hit the hospital and that over 30 of the wounded were staff members.
Last week, prior to the ground incursion, Israel was criticized for an aerial bombardment of a rocket launcher in Gaza City's Saja'iyya neighborhood. The IDF said then that the launcher was in an empty structure adjacent to el-Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital. Hours before the strike the hospital received an automated phone message from the IDF saying its staff had to evacuate all patients as they could get hurt in the strike.
But the hospital staff and its director said they could not evacuate the elderly and disabled patients who were having a hard time moving. Hospital director Basman Elashi told Yedioth Ahronoth then that he decided to move the patients to the first floor. According to him, the hospital's top floors were hit.
"The strike was on an unpopulated structure that used to serve as the hospital's geriatric ward," he said.
International media crews rushed to the scene to report the attack to the world. Elashi said he was unfamiliar with the IDF claims a rocket launcher was stashed in the building.
"The army's leaning on bad information here," he said. "I've never seen any installation of a rocket launcher near the hospital."
He denied reports Hamas had demanded him not to evacuate the hospital, but other sources said Hamas sent people into the hospital to serve as human shields.
The IDF said on Monday afternoon that since the ground operation began on Thursday night, 150 terrorists from the different organizations have been killed and over 587 targets have been attacked. Eight suspects have been arrested and 16 tunnels and some 45 shafts have been uncovered.
Roi Kais contributed to this report.