There’s little to laugh about these days amid the ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza.
But the Israeli army, which is perpetrating that genocide, did provide a little comic relief on Monday with a video purporting to show evidence that Hamas fighters had been using the Rantisi children’s hospital in Gaza City as a place to hold captives.
In this video, Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hagari gives a tour of a room he says is in the hospital’s basement. He claims there are signs that it had been used to hold captives taken by Hamas.These include such things as a woman’s clothes – the item he points to looks more like a hospital gown – and a short piece of cord he calls a “rope” that’s seen lying on the floor.
Then – as if he has really discovered a smoking gun – Hagari points at an object sitting on top of what looks like a wall-mounted control box for water pumps, marked with the name of the World Health Organization.
“It’s a baby bottle. It’s a baby bottle in a basement, above a World Health Organization sign,” Hagari says excitedly as he points to what is, in fact, a baby bottle.
“This is a suspicion for area where hostages were being held,” Hagari asserts. He then points to “infrastructure” including a toilet and a ventilation system – pretty normal things one would expect to find in a hospital.
Another damning piece of “evidence” Hagari shows is a packet of diapers.
“A toilet, a shower, a small kitchen will provide the terrorists their needs,” the military spokesperson adds, as if “terrorists” and not, say, hospital administrators, patients or staff might not also use such things.
Hagari then guides viewers into what looks like a fairly comfortable though windowless sitting room with armchairs, couches and potted plants lining the wall. In the corner there appears to be a photocopier.
A couple of chairs have throw cushions on them and there’s a rug on the floor.
“You’re now entering into the room where we suspect the hostages were being [held],” Hagari says.
The “evidence” here includes neatly pleated curtains hung from a rod near the ceiling against one wall, clearly part of the room’s decor or perhaps an effort to keep the chill out.
However Hagari asserts without evidence that the curtains were for use as a backdrop to film hostage videos – as if the captors would take the time to carefully and neatly hang curtains for this purpose.
“Every name on this list is a dead man walking”
But then comes the grand finale. “And now we’ll show you more evidence,” Hagari says as he walks across the room, passing by a desk that looks typical of a hospital administrator.
“In this room there is a list,” Hagari says as he points at a piece of paper taped to the wall. “This list in Arabic … this list says ‘We are in an operation, the operation against Israel – started in the 7th of October.”
“This is a guardians’ list, where every terrorist writes his name and every terrorist has his own shift, guarding the people that were here,” Hagari adds smugly as the camera pans back towards the potted plants, photocopier and armchairs.
In fact, none of what Hagari says about the document on the wall is true.
What he points to is a simple wall calendar. At the top it says “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” and indicates the date, 7 October 2023. This is the name commonly used to describe the current war.
Then there is a calendar grid for the months of October – starting on the 7th – and November.
Each square contains the date and day of the week and nothing else. There are no names.
Some of the squares – up to 3 November – are crossed out, indicating that someone was marking the passage of days of the war.
Aviva Klompas, a former speechwriter for the Israeli mission at the UN and an active online supporter of the Gaza genocide, breathlessly tweeted out an image of the wall calendar.
“Found in the basement of Rantisi Children’s Hospital in Gaza, a schedule showing the names of Hamas terrorists who guarded the hostages,” the Israel lobbyist captioned the picture. “Every name on this list is a dead man walking.”
At some point Klompas must have realized this particular lie was too easily debunked and deleted the tweet.
The Israeli army also later put out a tweet walking back its earlier false claims.But by the time the army tried to change its spin, this and other propaganda videos had been widely debunked and ridiculed. At a press conference Tuesday, the director of the Rantisi children’s hospital categorically denied the Israeli claims. He said that the basement rooms in the Israeli army video were normally used as administrative offices and as part of the hospital’s pharmacy.
But since the war started, thousands of people had flocked to the hospital seeking shelter and many of them were housed in these rooms as well until they were forced to leave by Israel’s invasion.
Perhaps recognizing that this pathetic PR effort was not mitigating the growing outrage at Israel’s deliberate attacks on hospitals, the army on Tuesday put out a new propaganda line claiming that “The IDF is currently transferring incubators from a hospital in Israel to the Shifa hospital in Gaza.”
But as was quickly pointed out, Gaza’s hospitals do not need incubators. They need fuel to run the incubators they already have – which Israel has prevented them from receiving.
This stunt backfired as well.On Sunday, health officials in Gaza announced that al-Shifa hospital had gone out of service since its fuel supply was exhausted.
One newborn baby died as its incubator lost power, while dozens of others were at risk.
“Our medical staff are unable to provide any care to patients, to any wounded, to any children, whatever their condition. Al-Shifa is without electricity, water or oxygen. Right now, a little girl suffering from heart disease is fighting for her life every minute because we can no longer provide her with oxygen,” hospital director Muhammad Abu Salmiya, told France 24 on Monday.
On Tuesday, Palestinians besieged inside the hospital were digging a mass grave to bury patients who had died.
Even as its claims are debunked one after the other, Israel continues to pump out poisonous lies aimed at justifying its war crimes against hospitals in Gaza.