White House denies US OK’d Israeli raid on Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza

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(WASHINGTON) — The White House denied Wednesday that U.S. confirmation of intelligence that Hamas uses Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza as a control center had anything to do with the timing of the Israeli military operation there, which began just hours earlier.

“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,” White House spokesperson John Kirby insisted, referring to the declassification of information.

Kirby also denied the U.S. gave any “OK” for the Israeli operation at Al Shifa Hospital.

“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,” Kirby said.

Kirby also said the operation was “not a focus” of President Joe Biden’s conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday night, and wouldn’t say if the U.S. got a heads up about the operation.

“I won’t go into a great detail about the conversation that the president had with the prime minister. I can tell you that this was not a focus of that conversation. Again, we don’t, we don’t expect the Israelis to advise us or inform us when they are going to conduct operations. … We talked to them routinely every day, and certainly we talked to them about our continued concerns over civilian casualties and sharing our perspectives on the best way to minimize, but these are their operations,” Kirby said.

Kirby was asked about the evidence Israel and the IDF is providing to prove Hamas was using Al Shifa as a command center, but Kirby simply stuck to the U.S.’s own assessment.

“I would say we are 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. We’re, we’re very comfortable with our own intelligence,” he said.

Israel has been criticized for fighting near Gaza hospitals — especially the Al Shifa Hospital.

Kirby did emphasize the care that needs to be taken when it comes to conducting military operations in hospitals in particular.

“We have been very consistent, very clear with our Israeli counterparts about how important it is to minimize civilian casualties. We have also been very clear about the special care that must be taken when you’re talking about hospitals because there are patients and even pediatric patients and medical staff and that hospital is an active, legitimate hospital, and [it’s] serving the legitimate medical needs of the people of Gaza,” Kirby said.

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