Today it was announced that the IDF is allowing passage south from the Shifa, Rantisi and Nasser hospitals in the northern Gaza Strip. During the past few days, a senior officer of the Gaza Military Police (Directorate of Coordination and Liaison) spoke with the director of the Shifa Hospital and presented to him the possible routes of passage from the hospital. The IDF opened and secured an axis that allows the population to move from the hospitals, on foot and with the help of ambulances.
“A significant human trap”
Prof. Zeev Rothstein, who served as the director of the Sheba Medical Center and the Hadassah Medical Center, who currently serves as a clinical associate professor at Tel Aviv University and chairman of the Medicines Basket, believes that these are not realistic solutions. Before the issue of health passed into the hands of Hamas, the Israeli Ministry of Health was responsible for treatments and medicines for patients hospitalized there. I am a cardiologist by training and part of my job was to examine children with heart defects. If follow-up was necessary, we would transfer them to further treatment at Sheba.”
According to him, the cooperation between these hospitals worked excellently, until the second intifada, during which the relationship began to loosen. “To this day, difficult cases are still sent to Shiba from Gaza. Even on Black Sabbath, there were still children from there who received treatment from us.”
Is it a real possibility to copy Shifa to another place?
“There are 3 hospitals in Gaza, but Shifa is the largest and most important of them. According to publications by the Gaza Ministry of Health, seriously ill patients are hospitalized there, and the mild patients who could have been evacuated were evacuated.
I don’t see any possibility of evacuating the hospital – neither to the ship nor to a field hospital. There are patients connected to ventilators, to a monitor. It is impossible to move them because it endangers their lives. Beyond that, there are medicines, food, and medical gases such as nitrogen or oxygen, which cannot be transported easily.” According to him, evacuating all the hospitalized patients is a process that requires a lot of preparation. “This is a very complex business. We need a medical body to accompany the issue, so I don’t think this is a viable solution at this stage. Whoever devilishly planned to place headquarters under a hospital, set a significant human trap for us. We are in a horror scenario. I think that maybe only the surrender of the hospital will allow us to control there and take care of everything that happens under it militarily.”
“An orderly evacuation must be carried out”
Dr. Eyal Zisser, an orientalist and vice rector at Tel Aviv University, also thinks that this is not a practical solution. “To our credit, this is a discussion that only Israel is conducting. For Russia, for example, this is a strategic concept – they take over an area by attacking hospitals. In Shifa there are thousands of staff members, patients and also probably evacuees who fled their homes and gather around the hospital because it provides shelter. I think that in principle, not under fire, with a balanced view and with the right preparations, it is possible to copy the hospital, assuming that there is an alternative facility prepared in advance, and time to move the patients. But practically speaking, in the situation we are in, I don’t think this is something realistic.”
According to him, if the IDF attacks Shifa with its 3,000 patients and staff members inside, the international reactions will be severe. The solution, then, according to him, is to siege the hospital. Then patients will not come to the place and those who can – will leave. In any case, I think we should not break in and if we do go in, an orderly evacuation should be carried out during a ceasefire to a suitable place. There are 50 medical facilities in Gaza, but they are smaller.”