Adalah demands independent investigation into Israeli attacks on hospitals and medical staff in Gaza

Suspicions of serious international law violations following attacks on hospitals and medical workers in the Gaza Strip, including bombings against Al-Aqsa hospital, Beit Hanoun hospital, and ambulances.

On 24 July 2014, Adalah and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights sent an urgent letter to the Minister of Defense, Attorney General and Military Advocate General, demanding an immediate investigation into the Israeli military’s attacks on hospitals and medical workers in the Gaza Strip, including bombings against Al-Aqsa hospital, Beit Hanoun hospital, and ambulances. These assaults have led to suspicions of serious violations of international humanitarian law, which may constitute war crimes. Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher sent the letter based on information collected by Al Mezan field workers located at the sites of the incident in question.

The Israeli military shelled Al-Aqsa hospital on 22 July 2014. According to testimonies, the military first attacked a residential building adjacent to the hospital. During the evacuation of the building, a large number of residents fled to the hospital for shelter. The Israeli military subsequently launched missiles directly at the hospital. In the first strike, the military hit the third floor of the hospital, which was used for surgeries; the second strike hit the second floor, the maternity ward; the third strike hit the administrative section of the hospital; and the fourth strike hit the main staircase to the hospital. As a result of the strikes, three people were killed and more than 40 wounded, around 15 of whom were members of the hospital’s medical staff.

During the evacuation of the wounded, three ambulances were seriously damaged by the impact of the strikes on the hospitals, causing more injuries to medical staff including two people who are in serious condition. As a result, the hospital was incapacitated, with its physical departments, computer devices and power generator damaged or destroyed; many of the windows and other parts of the hospital were also shattered. The hospital administration was thus forced to transfer all the injured patients to other hospitals nearby.

In another incident on 22 July 2014, in the early hours of the morning, the Israeli military launched strikes on three ambulances as they were performing their duties during the evacuation of wounded people from an industrial zone east of Beit Hanoun. One of the ambulance drivers was killed immediately, and all three vehicles were severely damaged.

Also on 22 July 2014, Israeli missiles landed in the garden of the Beit Hanoun hospital, which was adjacent to the recovery department. As a result of the bombing, one man was wounded and the hospital building was severely damaged. Hours later, the military launched a second strike on the hospital, with a missile landing in front of the recovery ward, which led to the outbreak of a fire at the entrance of the hospital and caused further serious damage to the building. It should be noted that in previous days, on 19 July 2014, the military also launched strike on the same hospital building, incurring many damages.


The letter by Adalah and Al Mezan emphasized that internal investigations by the military alone do not meet the requirements stipulated by international law to investigate suspected violations through an independent body. Internal investigations are insufficient and constitute a conflict of interest, as the participants involved in the events themselves conduct them. The military’s investigations of itself are not suitable to clarify the liability of those committing possible war crimes and bringing them to justice. It was therefore imperative that the competent authorities order an independent investigation into these events.

Cover photo by Safa Images