Palestine Red Crescent labels Israel bombing near Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital a ‘war crime’

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) claimed in a statement released Friday that an attack on their ambulances in Gaza by Israeli forces that day was in breach of the Geneva Conventions and amounted to a war crime.

The statement condemned the attack, which PRCS says targeted ambulances transporting injured civilians between Gaza City and Rafah to Al-Shifa hospital. The attack reportedly resulted in 15 civilian deaths and over 60 civilian injuries. The total number of PRCS ambulances destroyed during this and similar attacks now stands at eight.

Describing the event, which resulted in injuries to patients as well as medical crews, the PRCS noted that the ambulances were directly targeted by missiles, one of which hit the PRCS ambulance within a few metres of the hospital gate.

In response to these allegations, the Israeli Air Force stated, “A Hamas terrorist cell was identified using an ambulance. In response, an IAF aircraft struck and neutralized the Hamas terrorists, who were operating within the ambulance. We emphasize that this area in Gaza is a war zone.”

This appears to contradict the account presented by PRCS, which claimed that more than one ambulance had been targeted in the convoy of five vehicles. Condemning these actions, the PRCS statement argued, “PRCS emphasises that the deliberate targeting of medical teams constitutes a grave violation of the Geneva Conventions, a war crime, and that the parties to the four Geneva Conventions are legally bound to ensure the protection of medical teams and civilians under all circumstances.”

CAIR, a US Muslim civil rights organization, also labeled the attack as a war crime, placing blame directly on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres responded to the attack by stating that he was “horrified.” Though Gutteres called for the release of hostages held by Hamas in his statement, he again renewed his appeals for a humanitarian ceasefire in the region.

The PRCS statement concluded by seeking international support through “urgent intervention to exert pressure on the Occupying Authorities to ensure the protection of civilians, healthcare facilities, and medical teams operating in the Gaza Strip.”