Chris Hedges: Israel’s War on Hospitals

Israel is carrying out a campaign to make Gaza uninhabitable. This campaign includes destroying all of Gaza’s hospitals. The message Israel is sending is clear. Nowhere is safe. If you stay you die.

Eve of Destruction – by Mr. Fish.

By Chris Hedges
Original to ScheerPost

Israel is not attacking hospitals in Gaza because they are “Hamas command centers.” Israel is systematically and deliberately destroying Gaza’s medical infrastructure as part of a scorched earth campaign to make Gaza uninhabitable and escalate a humanitarian crisis. It intends to force 2.3 million Palestinians over the border into Egypt where they will never return. 

Israel has destroyed and nearly emptied the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. The Indonesian Hospital in Beit Lahia is next. Israel is deploying tanks and armored personnel carriers around the hospital and has fired rounds into the building, killing 12 people. 

The playbook is familiar. Flyers are dropped by Israel over a hospital telling people to leave because the hospital is a base for “Hamas terrorist activities.” Tanks and artillery shells rip away parts of the hospital walls. Ambulances are blown up by Israeli missiles. Power and water is cut. Medical supplies are blocked. There are no painkillers, antibiotics and oxygen. The most vulnerable, premature babies in incubators and the gravely ill, die. Israeli soldiers raid the hospital and force everyone out at gunpoint. 

This is what happened at Al Shifa hospital. This is what happened at Al Rantisi Children’s Hospital. This is what happened at Gaza’s main psychiatric hospital. This is what happened at Nasser Hospital. This is what happened at the other hospitals that Israel has destroyed. And this is what will happen at the few hospitals that remain. 

Israel has shut down 21 of Gaza’s 35 hospitals, including Gaza’s only cancer hospital. The hospitals still operating have severe shortages of basic medicine and supplies. One by one the hospitals are being picked off. Soon there will be no health facilities left. This is by design.

Tens of thousands of terrified Palestinians, forced to evacuate by Israel, their homes blasted into rubble, seek refuge from the relentless bombing by camping out in and around Gaza’s hospitals. They hope the medical centers will not be targeted by Israel. If Israel abided by the Geneva Conventions they would be correct. But Israel is not carrying out a war. It is carrying out a genocide. And in a genocide, a population, and all that sustains a population, is obliterated. 

[Related: Israeli Deceit & the Ongoing Battle of Shifa Hospital]

In an ominous sign that Israel will turn on the Palestinians in the West Bank once it is done flattening Gaza, armored vehicles have surrounded at least four West Bank hospitals. The Ibn Sina Hospital has been raided by Israeli soldiers along with the East Jerusalem Hospital.

Israel’s settler colonial state was founded on lies. It is sustained by lies. And now, when it is grimly determined to carry out the worst slaughter and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians since the 1948 Nakba, or “catastrophe,” that saw 750,000 Palestinians ethnically cleansed and some 50 massacres by Jewish militias, it spits out one grotesque absurdity after another.

It speaks of Palestinians as a dehumanized mass. There are no mothers, fathers, children, teachers, doctors, lawyers, cooks, poets, taxi drivers or shopkeepers. Palestinians, in the Israeli lexicon, are a single contagion that must be eradicated. Watch this video of Israeli school children singing, “We Will Annihilate Everyone” in Gaza. 

Hitler Youth used to sing songs like this about Jews.

Those who embark upon projects of mass killing lie to avoid demoralizing their own populations, lull the victims into believing they will not all be exterminated and stop outside forces from intervening.

The Nazis claimed that Jews packed on trains and sent to extermination camps were on work details and had good medical care and adequate food. As for the infirm and elderly, they were cared for in rest centers. The Nazis even created a mock camp for the “resettlement” of Jews “to the East,” —Theresienstadt — where international bodies such as the  Red Cross could see how humanely the Jews were treated, even as millions were being exterminated. 

A Holocaust train from Bergen-Belsen to Theresienstadt is liberated by the U.S. Army, April 14, 1945. (US Army Signal Corps, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

At least 664,000 and possibly as many as 1.2 million Armenians were massacred or died of exposure, disease and starvation during the genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire from the spring of 1915 to the autumn of 1916. The Armenian genocide was as public as the genocide in Gaza. European and U.S. consular missions provided detailed accounts of the campaign to cleanse modern day Türkiye of Armenians. 

The Ottoman government, in an attempt to hide the genocide, banned foreigners from taking photographs of Armenian refugees or the corpses that lined the roads. Israel too has blocked the foreign press from Gaza, carrying out only a handful of brief and carefully staged visits arranged by the Israeli military. Israel periodically cuts off internet and phone services. At least 43 Palestinian journalists and media workers have been killed by Israel since the Hamas incursion into Israel on Oct. 7, many undoubtedly targeted by Israeli forces.  

Armenians, like Palestinians, were forced from their homes, gunned down and denied food and water. Armenian deportees were sent on death marches to the Syrian Desert where tens of thousands were shot or died from starvation, cholera, malaria, dysentery and influenza. Israel is forcing 1.1 million Palestinians into the southern tip of Gaza and bombing them as they flee. These refugees, like the Armenians, lack food, water, fuel and sanitation. They too will soon succumb to epidemics of infectious diseases. 

Talat Pasha, the de facto leader of the Ottoman Empire, on Aug. 2, 1915, told the United States ambassador, Henry Morgenthau Sr., in words that replicate Israel’s stance, “that our Armenian policy is absolutely fixed and that nothing can change it. We will not have the Armenians anywhere in Anatolia. They can live in the desert but nowhere else.” 

The Armenian quarter of Adana in southern Turkey after the 1909 massacres. (Bain News Service, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

The longer the genocide continues the more absurd the lies become. 

There are big Israeli lies. The obliteration of Gaza and wanton killing of thousands of Palestinians, Israel insists, is a targeted effort to get rid of Hamas rather than a campaign to reduce Gaza to a pile of rubble, carry out mass murder and ethnically cleanse Palestinians. 

There are small Israeli lies. Forty beheaded babies. Al Shifa Hospital is a “Hamas command center.” A calendar in Arabic on the wall of a hospital, according to IDF Spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, is “a guardian [guard] list, where every terrorist writes his name and every terrorist has his own shift guarding the people that were here.”

An Israeli actor dressed up as a nurse and speaking heavily accented Arabic claims to be a Palestinian doctor and to have seen Hamas use civilians as human shields. She says members of Hamas “attacked Al Shifa Hospital” and stole “the fuel and medicine.” Palestinian militants, rather than Israeli tanks, Israel says, are responsible for shelling Al Shifa Hospital. 

Israel struck a car full of “terrorists” in southern Lebanon, “terrorists” who turned out to be three girls, their mother and grandmother. The explosion at the Al Ahli Hospital was the result of an errant rocket fired by the Palestinians, a claim questioned by The New York Times when it discredited the video based on analysis of its time stamp

Israel said it “responded to the request of the director of Shifa Hospital to allow Gazan citizens who were sheltering in the hospital and who wish to evacuate from Shifa Hospital towards the humanitarian crossing in the Gaza Strip via a secure axis,” a statement Mohammed Zaqout, director general of hospitals in Gaza, said was “false,” adding “we were forced to leave by gunpoint.” 

Israeli Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, in a video pilloried by the BBC, shows viewers a meager stash of automatic weapons in a promotional video that magically increases once foreign reporters arrive for a guided tour. The IDF later deleted it.

The lies will be written into the Israeli school books. The lies will be repeated by Israeli politicians, historians and journalists. The lies will be told on Israeli television and in Israeli films and books. Israelis are eternal victims. Palestinians are absolute evil. There was no genocide. Türkiye, a century later, still denies what happened to the Armenians.

In wartime people believe what they want to believe. The lies fill a hunger within the Israeli public that sees the conflict as a binary struggle between “the children of light and the children of darkness.” The lies are a defense against accountability, for if Israel refuses to acknowledge reality, it is not forced to respond to reality. The lies create cognitive dissonance, where fact becomes fiction and fiction becomes truth. The lies make any discussion of genocide, or reconciliation, impossible.  

Israel, with the backing of the Biden administration, will continue to snuff out all systems that sustain life in Gaza. Hospitals. Schools. Power plants. Water treatment facilities. Factories. Farms. Apartment blocks. Houses. Then Israel will pretend, like the killers in past genocides, it never happened. 

The lies used by Israel to absolve itself of responsibility will eat away at Israeli society. They will corrode its moral, religious, civic, intellectual and political life. The lies will elevate war criminals to heroic status and demonize those with a conscience. Israel’s genocide, as with the 1965 mass killings in Indonesia, will be mythologized, an epic battle against the forces of evil and barbarity, just as Americans mythologized the genocide of Native Americans and turned settlers and murderous cavalry units into heroes. 

The killers in the Indonesian war against communism are cheered at rallies as saviors. They are interviewed about the “heroic” battles they fought nearly six decades ago. Israel will do the same. It will deform itself. It will celebrate its crimes. It will turn evil into good. It will exist within a self-constructed myth. The truth, as in all despotisms, will be banished. Israel, a monster to the Palestinians, will be a monster to itself.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and NPR.  He is the host of show “The Chris Hedges Report.”

Author’s Note to Readers: There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Please, if you can, sign up at so I can continue to post my Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, “The Chris Hedges Report.”

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The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

9 comments for “Chris Hedges: Israel’s War on Hospitals

  1. ray Peterson
    November 23, 2023 at 06:17

    And along with the world forgetting its genocides, there’s
    Hitler saying: “and who remembers the Armenians?”
    So now there’s Netanyahu saying: and who will
    remember the Palestinians?
    Without the courageous reporters now joining
    the victims of US/Israeli genocide and WikiLeaks
    we’ll all likely slumber deeper into spiritual death

  2. mr bog
    November 22, 2023 at 22:09

    Obama’s mother worked to create lists of people to be exterminated in Indonesia in 1965.
    So we know where he got his morals.

  3. ray Peterson
    November 22, 2023 at 20:01

    Consortium News should be proud to share the statements of “this author.”
    Said to Israeli power elite then, still perfectly appropriate today: “You are of
    your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was
    a murderer from the beginning and has nothing to do with truth, because
    there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own
    nature, for he is liar and the father of lies” (Jn.8.44). Guess who?

  4. gcw919
    November 22, 2023 at 14:23

    The barbarity we are witnessing from the “world’s most moral army,” in 2023, is incomprehensible. It is even more enraging that the US, the “indispensable nation,” not only tolerates it, but actively supports it. The savagery and cruelty being exposed seems to have come from some deep-seated, primitive corner of the mind that periodically appears in human societies. And to think these maniacs in Israel have a nuclear arsenal.

  5. Which one is Pink?
    November 22, 2023 at 13:54

    Roger Waters Poem of the Day.

    ‘Pigs on the Wing’
    “If you didn’t care
    What happened to me
    And I didn’t care
    For you
    We would zig-zag our way through the boredom and pain
    Occasionally glancing up through the rain
    Wondering which of the buggers to blame
    And watching for pigs on the wing ”

    — the song appeared on the successful Pink Floyd album “Animals”, a collection of poems inspired by the writings of George Orwell.

  6. Em
    November 22, 2023 at 13:37

    Re: contemporary Palestine

    A mere two minutes of wisdom from the mouth of the late Edward Said, indigenous Palestinian-American professor of literature at Columbia University, born in Mandate Palestine in 1935, is more valuable than millennia of promotion of biblical mythology as fact.


    • Altruist
      November 23, 2023 at 06:21

      Professor Said’s point is made even more clearly by Craig Murray, who points out that using such rationale he could have a claim to Switzerland on the basis of his Celtic ancestors, given that Switzerland was Celtic during Roman times and before.

      I had the pleasure of seeing Professor Said a few times – first when I was a student at Columbia where he was my next door neighbor (I didn’t really know who he was and just saw him occasionally collect the morning New York Times in front of his door) – and later, shortly before his death, when he gave a speech at the Palais Schwarzenberg in Vienna – the owner of the palace, Karel Schwarzenberg – the late foreign minister of the Czech Republic – having invited him there after the Vienna Freud Museum had cravenly disinvited him from speaking under political pressure. A truly impressive speech, where the already gravely ill Said spoke from his heart regarding the situation of his land and people.

  7. irina
    November 22, 2023 at 13:36

    There is a commerce clause informing Israel’s obvious and (so far) successful campaign to depopulate Gaza :


    Access to Gaza’s offshore natural gas deposits has no doubt informed the long-term plans to take over the Gaza Strip by whatever means necessary. Combined with renewed interest in constructing the Ben Gurion Canal as an alternate route to the Suez Canal,
    Israel’s bombing campaign makes way too much sense in a very sick way. And the most
    logical route for the Ben Gurion Canal would be right through the middle of the Gaza Strip.

    • Lois Gagnon
      November 23, 2023 at 13:59

      Always follow the money. What an evil world pursuit of profit has built.

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