A UAE Red Crescent team sets up a field hospital in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge. Left: Dr. Mohammed al-Falahi, secretary general of the UAE Red Crescent, gives a lecture in which he reveals that a Hamas operative provoked Israel by firing rockets from a field near the field hospital (video of the Dr. Mohammed al-Falahi's lecture, YouTube, June 12, 2017).
1. On June 12, 2017, Dr. Mohammed al-Falahi, secretary general of the UAE Red Crescent, gave a lecture about the security challenges faced by the UAE in carrying out its humanitarian activities around the globe. The lecture was attended by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the ruler of Abu Dhabi, and senior government figures. The lecture was translated into English and quoted by The National's news site, without noting that the statements had been made during a lecture.
2. Dr. al-Falahi reported that during Operation Protective Edge the UAE Red Crescent set up a field hospital in the Gaza Strip (initially in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, and moved a short time later to the Rafah region). Its objective was to reinforce the Palestinian health-care system in the Gaza Strip, which was under great pressure during the war because of the large number of wounded. He said the UAE Red Crescent had informed the Israeli authorities about the location of the field hospital, relating positively to the coordination between the UAE Red Crescent, the Red Cross and Israel.
|3. Dr. al-Falahi was severely critical of Hamas. He noted that despite the fact that Hamas was aware of the hospital's activity, "someone from Hamas [provoked] Israeli forces by launching locally made rockets from the field hospital." He said that showed Hamas’ "wicked intentions" and readiness to sacrifice the hospital staff to achieve its propaganda objectives.|
4. It was the first public statement from a senior Arab heading a humanitarian organization about Hamas "wicked" and immoral conduct during Operation Protective Edge. In ITIC assessment the fact that the revelation was made when and where it was, in the presence of senior UAE figures, was not accidental. In all probability it was linked to the cutting off of diplomatic relations by Saudi Arabia and its allies (the UAE among them) with Qatar, and the demand that Qatar stop its support of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Youm al-Sabaa, June 6, 2017). Donald Trump included Hamas when mentioning regional terrorist organizations during his visit to Saudi Arabia.
|5. The repeated military use made by Hamas of medical facilities in the Gaza Strip (hospitals, clinics, ambulances) is well-known from Operation Protective Edge and more so from Operation Cast Lead. It included transferring military headquarters, operatives and weapons to hospitals, and firing rockets and mortar shells near medical facilities. The objective was to provide Hamas' operatives and weapons with a kind of "immunity" from IDF attacks, based on the knowledge that the IDF does not attack medical facilities.|
The Reference to Hamas in Mohammed al-Falahi's Lecture
Left: The ruler of Abu Dhabi and other senior UAE figures listen to Dr. Mohammed al-Falahi. Right: Dr. Mohammed al-Falahi delivers his lecture (YouTube, June 12, 2017).
6. On June 12, 2017, Dr. Mohammed al-Falahi, secretary general of the UAE Red Crescent, gave a lecture in Abu Dhabi. It was attended by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the ruler of Abu Dhabi, and senior government figures. His topic was the security challenges faced by the UAE Red Crescent in carrying out its humanitarian activity around the globe. He illustrated with events occurring in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge (July-August, 2014), when an UAE Red Crescent team set up a field hospital in the Gaza Strip. He said it was "the first time they were announcing the events."
7. Dr. al-Falahi said that before the UAE Red Crescent team arrived it coordinated with the Red Cross, which gave the team and hospital authorization to enter the Gaza Strip. The Red Cross also liaised with the IDF, informing them of the location of the field hospital so it would not be attacked.
8. Dr. al-Falahi said that while they were in the UAE field hospital they were surprised by someone from Hamas provoking Israeli forces by launching locally made rocketsat Israeli planes from a field near the field hospital. In response the Israel planes shot at the source of fire. He said that in his opinion, Hamas was provoking the Israelis primarily to show the world that Israel attacked humanitarian aid sites. He said the members of the team felt victimized by Hamas, which controlled the Gaza Strip. He said, "This shows [Hamas'] wicked intentions and how they sacrificed us. They always claim that the enemy targets humanitarian envoys but the betrayal came from them."
9. Dr. al-Falahi ended that section of his speech by saying that as the team was leaving Gaza "after having raised the white flag, Hamas accused us of being spies, undercover foreign intelligence who were escaping. And apparently they had informed extremist militias in Sinai and Sheikh Zuweid [in the northern Sinai Peninsula] that there was a group making their way there, so [they were to] prepare for jihad against them. So Muslims fighting Muslims, who were giving humanitarian aid to Muslims. As we stopped…to buy something to eat, they started shooting at us." He added that they found that the militias had planted landmines in their path a few kilometers farther down the path. "What hurts is that the betrayal came from our own people," he said (The National, June 12, 2017).
Hamas' Military Use of Medical Facilities
10. Hamas and the other terrorist organizations customarily make military use of medical facilities in the Gaza Strip(hospitals, clinics, ambulances). It is one aspect of the wider military use made of public institutions and facilities, including schools. It is done to ensure a kind of "immunity" for its operatives and equipment, knowing that the IDF will not, insofar as is possible, attack medical facilities. If, however, a medical facility is damaged by the IDF, Hamas' propaganda apparatus exploits it to accuse Israel of "war crimes" and a deliberate attack on the civilian population.
11. William Booth, a Washington Post correspondent, wrote an article from the Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge on July 15, 2014. He said, "At the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, crowds gathered to throw shoes and eggs at the Palestinian Authority's health minister, who represents the crumbling 'unity government' in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The minister was turned away before he reached the hospital, which has become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices" (ITIC emphasis).
12. The al-Shifa Hospital, located in the western part of Gaza City, is the largest and most important hospital in the Gaza Strip. Hamas used it for a wide range of military purposes during Operation Cast Lead: its senior figures were housed there; some of the wards were closed off and guarded by armed operatives; weapons were brought in; and terrorist operatives were stationed near the hospital from which they fired mortar shells. During Operation Cast Lead the hospitals throughout the Gaza Strip were used for military purposes.
13. During Operation Protective Edge an IDF force identified two Palestinian terrorist operatives using an ambulance to drive around the Gaza Strip(IDF spokesman, July 22, 2014). They were documented getting into the vehicle and being driven away by a driver wearing a white coat. The IDF did not attack the ambulance, fearing that there might be civilians inside. The event was publicized by a video posted to YouTube by the IDF spokesman.
Two scenes from a video issued by the IDF spokesman show terrorist organizations using an ambulances for military purposes during Operation Protective Edge (IDF Spokesman's Unit, July 22, 2014).
Dr. Mohammed Ateeq al-Falahi
Dr. Mohammed Ateeq al-Falahi, secretary general of the UAE Red Crescent (al-Watan, Kuwait, March 26, 2015; YouTube, March 30, 2016).
1. Dr. Mohammed Ateeq Sultan al-Falahihas served as secretary general of the UAE Red Crescent since 2012. He got a BA in Islamic jurisprudence from the UAE's Islamic University (2006), and an MA in general management from a school in New York (2007). He wrote his PhD thesis on management from an Islamic perspective at the Mohammed V University in Morocco (2011).
2. Mohammed al-Falahi lives in Abu Dhabi. Before his present role as Security Council of the UAE Red Crescent he worked for Abu Dhabi's oil company for five years. In addition, he is on the board of directors of a number of other institutions, including the high commission for mothers and children, the general authority for Islam and the waqf, and the UAE branch of al-Azhar University (al-Bayan, June 13, 2017).
The UAE Field Hospital Set Up in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge
3. The field hospital set up in the Gaza Strip was donated by the UAE Red Crescent and sponsored by the Abu Dhabi crown prince and the commander of the armed forces. Its objective was to reinforce the local health-care system in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge, which was under great pressure because of the number of people who had been wounded. The field hospital team arrived in Cairo on July 15, 2014. On arrival they announced they were planning to hold talks with the local authorities in the Gaza Strip regarding the best location for the hospital (website of the UAE Red Crescent, July 16, 2014).
4. A medical team of about 50 personnel arrived with the equipment for setting up the hospital. After coordinating with the Red Cross (which reported to the IDF about the hospital and its location), on July 19, 2014 the hospital was set up near the Shuhadaa' al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip. A short time later it was moved to the Tel Sultan neighborhood in the western part of Rafah, because of the large number of people who had been wounded in the Rafah region, and to provide medical responses for the southern Gaza Strip. When the delegation left the Gaza Strip (through the Rafah crossing), the hospital and all its equipment were given to the Palestinian Red Crescent in Deir al-Balah (24.ae, September 7, 2014).
5. According to the field hospital's director, there were 50 beds,operating rooms, and intensive care, surgical and burn units. There were also two ambulances the team had brought with them from Abu Dhabi. The medical team numbered more than 50 (alresalah.net, July 16, 2014). According to reports the hospital treated hundreds of people every day (website of the UAE Red Crescent, August 12, 2014).
The National is an English-language newspaper and website in the UAE. It was founded in 2008 and covers local, regional and international news. It is operated by Abu Dhabi Media, whose offices are in Abu Dhabi. This document is based on the Arabic lecture supplemented by The National's website. ITIC emphasis throughout.
See the July 23, 2014 bulletin, "Hamas and the Other Terrorist Organizations in the Gaza Strip Use Medical Facilities and Ambulances for Military-Terrorist Purposes."