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Hospitals are supposed to be safe. Not in Gaza.

The storming of Nasser Hospital might break international humanitarian law.

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The Israel Defense Forces raided Gaza’s largest still-operating hospital on Thursday in Khan Younis, a southern city that once sheltered over 100,000 displaced Palestinians but that has been under siege for weeks.

The IDF told Vox that it has “credible intelligence that Hamas held hostages in Nasser Hospital. Terrorists appear to be operating from within the hospital too.” IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in a statement that IDF special forces are undertaking a “precise and limited mission” to find and recover bodies of Israeli hostages that it believes to be in the hospital, citing their own intelligence and testimony from released hostages. Hamas has refuted those claims, and Vox is unable to independently verify them.

This is only the latest of many hospital raids that Israel has conducted since the war began, both in Gaza and in the occupied West Bank. The raids have been a source of bitter controversy, with Israel claiming Hamas has left it with no choice but to resort to such measures while opponents of the country’s war strategy argue that nothing Hamas does can warrant the civilian suffering Israel exacts.

In this and other instances, even if the IDF’s claims are true, human rights advocates say that under international humanitarian law, Israel cannot justify the dire humanitarian consequences of the raid. The IDF’s operation has forced doctors, patients, and displaced Palestinians sheltering there to flee, though many remain trapped inside, unable to leave. That’s despite the IDF’s assurances that the hospital would continue to operate and that civilians would be granted safe passage.

The raid comes as Israel is reportedly considering a ground invasion of Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza whose border crossing with Egypt has remained largely closed. Israel claims Rafah is the last remaining Hamas stronghold, but any operation there would lead to “carnage,” according to the United Nations. That’s in large part because the city’s population is roughly five times larger than it was before the war, swollen by refugees fleeing the fighting further north, including in Khan Younis.

It’s not clear how the US government will respond to the operation at Nasser Hospital, given increasingly critical rhetoric from top officials and the president himself. Last week, Biden said that Israel had been “over the top” in its approach in Gaza and that civilian suffering and death “had to stop.” However, he has shown no sign of wanting to withdraw any of the US’s ongoing military support to Israel. The White House and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“There is a cost for the United States in not being seen as consistent in how it judges these situations,” Michael Wahid Hanna, US program director for the International Crisis Group, told Vox in an interview. “And for many, there is a sense that such accidents elsewhere would necessarily be seen as unacceptable.” Attacks on hospitals in Syria and Ukraine, for example, have rightly been condemned by the US and the international community.

What we know about the raid

According to the IDF, its attack on Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis was an operation to recover the remains of Israeli hostages thought to be at the facility.

The IDF told Vox, without providing any evidence to support this assertion, that “Hamas terrorists are likely hiding behind injured civilians inside Nasser Hospital right now and appear to have used the hospital to hide our hostages there too.”

IDF spokesperson Hagari said in a video statement that IDF soldiers had captured suspected militants within Nasser Hospital, including some that participated in the October 7 attacks, in Thursday’s raid. A nurse in the hospital’s emergency department, whose name Vox is withholding for their safety, told Vox that there were no militants in the hospital at the time of the raid.

“In a sense, [the IDF is] not trying anymore” to justify its attacks on hospitals, Hanna said. “They have sort of created the precedent and have replicated it. The preparatory steps are just being skipped at this point, and it seems like now it’s just something more akin to a standard operating procedure.”

Israeli forces initially ordered the evacuation of Khan Younis in January, but many patients, medical staff, and displaced people remained at the facility. Such an evacuation is difficult — if not impossible — for the seriously sick and injured, especially without transportation like helicopters and a guaranteed safe evacuation route. And for people already displaced in Gaza, there are few other options.

On Tuesday, Israel commanded everyone to evacuate prior to the raid. Vox has reviewed video footage of some medical staff and others evacuating, as well as footage of patients and displaced people crowded into an older building in Nasser Hospital, leaving the surgical and obstetrics and gynecology wards for inspection.

Prior to Thursday’s IDF raid, a drone attack wounded one of the doctors working at the hospital; a separate overnight strike on the hospital wounded six patients and killed one, according to the Associated Press. The Gaza health ministry told the BBC that Israeli sniper fire killed three people and injured two on Tuesday and that a further seven people were shot and killed Monday.

Medecins Sans Frontieres, one of the medical charities operating in Gaza, also said that Israel had shelled the hospital early Thursday morning, even though Israeli forces had told patients and medical staff they could stay there.

“Our medical staff have had to flee the hospital, leaving patients behind,” the group wrote on the platform X on Thursday. “Israeli Forces set up a checkpoint to screen people leaving the compound; one of our colleagues was detained at this checkpoint. We call for his safety and the protection of his dignity.”

There is a narrow exception to medical facilities’ protected status under international humanitarian law (IHL), but it’s not yet clear that what Israel has found at Nasser makes it exceptional. Absent overwhelming evidence that Hamas is using a given hospital to launch military attacks, experts said the facility should not be considered a military apparatus and should maintain its special protected status — and even should an attack be legal, it must be proportional.

In any case, civilians inside the hospital — patients and medical staff — are still protected under IHL.

Israel has been raiding hospitals for months

Throughout the war in Gaza, the IDF has raided hospitals — which are protected by international humanitarian law even above other civilian infrastructure — on the basis that Hamas fighters are hiding there.

Israel and the US have accused Hamas of using “human shields,” or deliberately stationing themselves in locations (like hospitals) that would make them immune to attack through the laws of war by their proximity to civilians and other protected people. The use of human shields constitutes a war crime.

Hamas has denied the allegations, which Vox is unable to independently verify. Hamas does operate an extensive tunnel network under Gaza; there is evidence, including that examined by independent media outlets, that Hamas has placed some operations under hospitals before, if not established command and control centers there.

Even taking those allegations to be true wouldn’t mean that Israel can just claim hospitals as legitimate military targets. Hospitals can lose their protected status under the law “when acts harmful to the enemy are being committed” at the site, said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director for Human Rights Watch. Israel has presented what it says is evidence that the hospitals it has targeted are Hamas “command and control centers,” but that evidence has previously proven to be shaky.

Before storming the al-Shifa hospital in November, the IDF made specific claims about how the hospital was being used by Hamas: The militant group’s activities were concentrated in five buildings atop a tunnel network that could be accessed from the hospital, which was used as a command center for rocket launches and militants. They then released photos and video of the operation that they said proved as much. But a detailed Washington Post forensic analysis later found that the “evidence presented by the Israeli government falls short of showing that Hamas has been using the hospital as a command and control center.”

Even if a hospital were being used as a command and control center to commit acts harmful to the enemy, “Israeli authorities cannot treat a hospital as a free fire zone,” Shakir said.

“The protections against indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks not only continue to apply, but actually are heightened at a hospital because even what may seem like a relatively minor attack can have life-altering consequences for patients who are being treated there, as well as for the medical workers that are providing lifesaving care to patients,” he said.

International humanitarian law also requires that Israel provide safe evacuation for civilians in the area. IDF spokesperson Hagari said in a statement that the military had opened a humanitarian corridor at the Nasser Hospital, but reports have indicated that people have been blocked from leaving the premises, with some coming under attack when they tried to flee.

“The Israeli government has consistently failed to provide a safe passage,” Shakir said. “They made these promises, over and over again, with evacuations from Northern Gaza from other hospitals. And consistently there have been well-documented reports of people being killed in airstrikes in purportedly safe zones. So these statements need to be read with a high degree of skepticism.”

The IDF also led raids on the al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City and the Kamal Adwan hospital in northern Gaza in December, the Ibn Sina Hospital in the West Bank town of Jenin in January, and others. And it has been accused of targeting ambulances and of conducting shelling near hospitals. Human Rights Watch has called for some of these “repeated, apparently unlawful attacks on medical facilities, personnel, and transport” to be investigated as war crimes.

As Israel has made Gaza uninhabitable, hospitals have been the last safe place for civilians to shelter, even while facing a critical shortage of medical supplies. For those still trapped inside Nasser Hospital, that is no longer the case.

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Sports

Karachi Kings to score 155 runs against Peshawar Zalmi

Kings’ captain Shan Masood won the toss and let Zalmi bat first.

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Lahore: Karachi Kings will score 155 runs against Peshawar Zalmi in Pakistan Super League’s (PSL) season nine ’s sixth match. 

According to the details, this match is being played in Gaddafi stadium where Kings’ captain Shan Masood won the toss and let Zalmi bat first.

Zalmi’s team faced difficulties from the starting of the match. Peshawar scored 154 runs in 19.5 overs and all got out. 

Shoaib Malik got wicket of Saim Ayub on 0 scores. After that Muhammad Haris scored 6 runs and got out on Mir Hamza’s ball. 

Babar Azam scored 72 runs apart from that Tom Kohler, Cadmore scored 2 runs. Rovman Powell scored 39, Asif Ali 23, Aamir Jamal 1 and Wood scored 8 runs. 

Mohammad Zeeshan, Salman Arshad and Waqar Salam scored no runs in the match. Karachi Kings’ Mir Hamza and Hassan Ali got 3, 3 wickets. 

Babar Azam stated that if his team have won the toss then they would have batted first.  

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Regional

How the Kansas City shooting proves the “good guy with a gun” idea is a fallacy

“That’s what happens with guns”: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas noted that the shooting still happened despite extensive security at the parade.

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In remarks following a mass shooting at the Chiefs Super Bowl parade, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas made a pointed statement about how the tragedy was able to take place even with more than 800 police officers stationed at the parade to secure the area.

“That’s what happens with guns,” he said plainly.

At least one person was killed in the violence and 21 people — including 11 children — were injured. As of Thursday, police had detained three people and confiscated multiple firearms in connection with the shooting, which they attributed to an interpersonal dispute.

“Parades, rallies, schools, movies, it seems like almost nothing is safe,” Lucas added.

According to reports, the violence began as an argument and escalated. It was not a single-shooter targeted attack like the kind that often receives more media attention. That makes it more in line with the vast majority of shooting incidents in the US.

Lucas’s statements highlight the fact that the proliferation of guns and weak gun control policies have fueled the United States’s mass shooting crisis, including the latest instance of violence in Kansas City. They also explicitly acknowledge the fallacy of the “good guy with a gun” argument: the idea that adding armed security — rather than limiting access to guns — can keep people safe.

The US has problems with gun violence because it has a lot of guns

The US is unique among industrialized countries when it comes to the frequency of fatal gun violence.

According to CNN, which referenced the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), a University of Washington global health research group, the proportion of homicides caused by gun violence in the US was 18 times that of the average of other developed countries in 2019.

Similarly, the number of firearms people own in the US far surpasses that of any other developed country. The US has about 120 firearms per 100 residents, much higher than Yemen, the next closest country, which has about 53 firearms per 100 residents, according to a 2018 study by the Swiss-based gun research project the Small Arms Survey.

As Vox has explained, multiple studies have directly linked the country’s number of firearms with the frequency of gun violence. “One 2013 Boston University-led study, for instance, found that for each percentage point increase in gun ownership at the household level, the state firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9 percent,” my colleagues Nicole Narea, Ian Millhiser, and I wrote. “And states with weaker gun laws have higher rates of gun-related homicides and suicides, according to a study by the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.”

The impact of gun violence has already been evident this year. In the first month and a half of 2024, 1,639 Americans have been killed by firearms and 2,223 have been injured, according to data collected by the Gun Violence Archive, a not-for-profit group that tracks US shootings.

In response to shootings, gun advocates often argue that more guns are the answer, that having a so-called “good guy with a gun” helps as they can stop a “bad guy with a gun.” That argument was advanced by gun advocates following a recent church shooting in Houston, in which off-duty officers shot and killed the suspected shooter.

And it’s a myth directly peddled by the gun lobby: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” former National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre previously said. As Lucas noted, however, despite the strong presence of armed security and law enforcement at the Chiefs parade, the shooting still occurred and resulted in injuries and a fatality.

“We had over 800 officers there, staffed, situated all around Union Station today. We had security in any number of places, eyes on top of buildings and beyond — and there still is a risk to people,” Lucas said. That’s not to say law enforcement and civilians didn’t help prevent the situation from being worse: Bystanders assisted in subduing one suspect, per reports, and police arrested at least one individual as well.

Research has shown that increasing the presence of “good guys with guns” is not a fully effective way to reduce gun violence. This is because police often aren’t able to respond in time and the attack has already occurred when they’re able to react. Per a Texas State University study, police were able to stop less than a third of active attacks — including shootings — between 2000 and 2022.

Lucas’s statements and the circumstances in Kansas City ultimately underscore a grim reality: A central problem in these shootings is the guns themselves.

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