Systematic Attacks on Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz

Systematic Attacks on Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz

Thu Nov 14 2019
Systematic Attacks on Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz

By collecting and analysing images and videos published on social media and news networks, Yemeni Archive concluded that Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz was attacked on three separate occasions and targeted on each occasion multiple times with rocket-propelled grenades and other munitions. According to the evidence and sources analysed, the vicinity of Al-Thawra Hospital was struck by a number of missiles targeting medical departments, doctors' residences, the hospital gate and nearby houses. Attacks resulted in casualties from civilians, patients and medical staff working in the hospital.

The first attack began at 11:30 pm on June 20, 2015 and continued until 2:00 am the following day, meaning that the attack consisted of two and a half hours of continuous shelling on hospital departments.

The second attack took place at 09:00 am on 25 October when a shell landed in front of the hospital gate, killing and wounding several people, and then at 12:00 pm, another shell landed on the left side of the hospital's large building.

The third attack took place on November 11 at 5:38 pm with a number of rocket-propelled grenades that killed two people and wounded nine others.

The attacks partially destroyed some of the vital sections of the hospital, forcing them out of service. Numerous reports alleged that Houthi forces were responsible. Although Yemeni Archive did not find any open source content attributing responsibility for the attacks, however the attacks were carried out with heavy weapons, tanks and various mortars and took place after Houthi forces took over military bases from the Yemeni Army which held these heavy weapons. At the time, Houthi forces also controlled all areas of high elevation overlooking the hospital having expanded their control over various Yemeni cities, including Taiz.

Al-Thawra Hospital is located in the center of the city of Taiz, southern Yemen, and is 286 km from the capital Sana'a. Taiz governorate is experiencing an armed conflict between Yemeni government forces and Houthi forces, who have been seeking control of the city since March 2015.

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What happened?

During 2015, several satellite TVs, news websites, and local activist Twitter and Facebook pages circulated reports that the Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz governorate was repeatedly shelled by rocket-propelled grenades. Houthi forces fired these shells into vital sections of the hospital and partially destroyed some of these sections, resulting in deaths and injuries. Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz was systematically targeted throughout the second half of that year.

The first attack on June 20, 2015

On June 20, Abdul Qader al-Junaid, a Yemeni activist from Taiz, posted on his Facebook page that Al-Thawra Hospital had been shelled indiscriminately by Houthi forces and forces loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The following day, Taiz Facebook page published on 01:08 am that the ambulance department of Al-Thawra Hospital was shelled. On the same day, The New Yemeni website published news of the continued bombing of the hospital by Houthi and Saleh forces, and that shells hit the ambulance department the houses of civilians next to the hospital.

The first news about this attack was Abdul Qadir al-Junaid's post on his Facebook page published at 11:30 local time in Yemen which indicated when Al-Thawra Hospital started to be bombed. To further investigate the time of the attack, the Yemeni Archive investigation team analysed the timestamp of the posts using 4webhelp to determine the timing of publication, and found them to be matching.

On June 23, two days after the first attack, Amin Dibwan published a report by Yemen Shabab TV on his personal YouTube channel. The report shows the impact of the shells on the hospital building, and features a testimony by one of the hospital staff saying: "At midnight, a shell landed on the surgery unit, which damaged the surgery room, a second on the obstetrics department, a third on the intensive care department, and another one on the radiology department." At the 1:15 mark in the video, shots are heard near the hospital. "As you hear now, the shelling is still going on. At 8:00 am there were 10 sniper shots on the war relief unit. Six shells dropped the hospital glass near us at night and we were on the ground flood of the building," said one patient, who was in a room that was hit by shrapnel.

On June 25, Mujahid al-Salali tweeted photographs showing Al-Thawra hospital doctors’ residences shelled by rocket-propelled grenades.

On June 27, Houthi Violations Facebook page posted photos showing the destruction of the hospital including one in which a doctor appears to be carrying remnants of of one of the rockets that hit the hospital.

On July 7, Saleh al-Hakami published a video taken from inside Al-Thawra Hospital showing the destruction of some of the hospital's departments by rocket fire. In the video, one hospital staff member says: “Al-Thawra General Hospital is the only government hospital and now operates at 1% of its capacity. As you can see all the facilities of this big building are closed because of the shelling. There is only a small building that is operating. The departments of major surgeries, gastroenterology, surgery and ophthalmology have been closed. Now it’s only the dialysis unit and the War Emergency Committee which are operational and staffed by a limited number of people who are working voluntarily.”

Reports indicate that the shelling of Al-Thawra Hospital continued until 2:00 am on June 21, 2015. The Nabad Alkarama News Facebook page posted at 1:42 am local time saying that Al-Thawra Hospital is still under attack by the Houthi and Saleh groups. The investigation team in the Yemeni Archive verified the timing of the publication of the news using the same tool.

Testimonies from the “Yemen Shabab” TV report indicate that the timing of the shelling was around midnight local time.

The second attack on October 25, 2015

On October 25, 2015, Taha Saleh, a cameraman based in Taiz, published a Facebook post stating that a shell landed in front of the gate of Al-Thawra Hospital. On the same day, the page of the Media Center of the Popular Resistance – Taiz posted a photo on Facebook showing smoke rising. The post said that this is an exclusive picture of a mortar shell falling in front of the gate of Al-Thawra Hospital. Al-Wahbani Daoud also posted on his personal Facebook page about the injury of one of his friends by shrapnel of a shell that fell in front of the gate of Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz.

Taiz Now posted a tweet with photos and a caption reading "one of the shells that landed just inside Al-Thawra Hospital". Shaab Online website also published that Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz was bombed for the second day in a row.

Taiz News Network posted a video on Facebook showing the moment another rocket landed inside the hospital. On November 6, Al Jazeera published a report from inside Al-Thawra Hospital showing the effects of the shelling, and at the 0:58 mark in the video, a direct explosion can be heard during the filming of the report In the report, the Director of the Dialysis Center says: "These patients will die we are under constant attack, there’s continuous shelling on the hospital, supply lines are completely cut off and we cannot bring in any medicine."

The attack on the hospital lasted for hours, and many news, photos and reports showing the hospital hit by two rocket-propelled grenades were circulated at different times.

Taha Saleh’s post, the first identified, was published at 09:45 am local time. For further verification, Yemeni Archive analysed the timestamp of the Facebook post using the 4webhelp tool to determine the timing of Facebook posting and it showed a match in timing.

In the post of the Media Center of the Popular Resistance - Taiz, a picture shows smoke from a shell which landed in front of the hospital gate according to the post. Using the Shadow Calculator tool, it confirms that the attack was around 9:46 am local time in Taiz.

While social media reported that there was another shell and published a number of photos and a video showing rising smoke, Taiz News Network posted a video on Facebook showing the shadows of people near the scene of the bombing. Using the previous tool, we can confirm that the second shelling ]\ took place around 12:00 local time in Taiz.

The third attack on November 11, 2015

On November 11, Taiz Takkaoush posted on Facebook about deaths and injuries from rocket-propelled grenades at Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz. At the same time, the account of Sky News Arabia Breaking tweeted that eight people were wounded by the bombing of Houthi forces on Al-Thawra hospital in Taiz. The Egyptian newspaper Al-Yawm Al-Sabea also published that evening that the Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz was bombed. The website of the Lebanese newspaper Al-Diyar published news at 11:13 pm the same day that Al-Thawra Hospital was bombed by Houthi groups.

On the same day, Taiz News Network published a press release attributed to the Al-Thawra Hospital Authority in Taiz. The statement confirms that rockets were fired at Al-Thawra Hospital and that there were injuries among the hospital's medical staff.

On November 12, Extra News, an Egyptian TV channel, published on its YouTube page a report that Al-Thawra General Hospital in Taiz had been shelled by the Houthi groups.

The first posting on the attack was a tweet by the Taiz Monitor Twitter account at 5:38 pm local time in Taiz. Yasser Marsh Al-Humairi, one of the hospital's staff, posted on his Facebook page that the hospital was being bombed. The time of his post is 5:48 pm. The rest of the pages, news websites and activists circulated new of the shelling between 5:38 pm and midnight on November 11, 2015.

Landmarks and Geolocation

To determine the exact targeted location, Yemeni Archive collected and verified the visual content associated with the attacks, identifying and comparing landmarks and then matching them with the satellite image of the location of Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz.

Satellite maps show the location of the Al-Thawra Hospital in the center of Taiz. The video posted by Saleh al-Hakami on his YouTube channel shows some of the landmarks outside Al-Thawra Hospital. We compared images from the the doctors’ residence seen in the report with Google Earth satellite images and found a match, thereby confirming the video. The video also contains an outside shot of the hospital that corresponds to a satellite image of Al-Thawra hospital taken from the same angle.

The photo published by the Media Center of the Popular Resistance - Taiz on its Facebook page, which claimed it was an exclusive picture of the fall of a shell in front of Al-Thawra Hospital also s matches with satellite images on Google Earth. The visual shows “Cafeteria Shabab Taiz” opposite to the hospital gate as well as a high-rise white building. Yemeni Archive was able to locate the site on Google Earth maps as shown in the following image:

In the second attack on October 25, 2015, comparing the photos and videos published on the day of the attack with satellite images allows us to determine that the shell landed on the left side of the big building inside Al-Thawra Hospital.

The impact of the attack and the weapons used

In 2015, the Al-Thawra Hospital was the only government health facility in the region to serve patients and war-wounded, both military and civilian. TV reports indicate that several sections of the hospital were destroyed by the shelling of the hospital. The Red Cross published photos in a report they said were photos of one of the bombed rooms.

In one room said to house doctors, a comparison of video footage shot from the front entrance and photos posted on Twitter shot from the back corner, show a match.

The images published by the Red Cross also matched those of the scene shown in the Yemen Shabab video.

Houthi Violations also published an image that matched that of Saleh al-Hakami's video.

The following pictures are published by Anadolu News Agency on its Facebook page showing the destruction inside Al-Thawra Hospital, followed by pictures taken from news reports mentioned earlier in this investigation.

Most of the allegations in news channels, videos and photos posted on social media said the attack was carried out with mortars and tank shells fired by Houthis forces. Yemeni Archive found several photographs documenting the remnants of the munitions used in the attack. The photos show a rocket-propelled grenade, while one video shows the impact of gunshots that hit the hospital's windows, which is consistent with testimonies about the attack indicating that the hospital was shelled with a number of mortar shells and tanks. There were as well as the sound of gunshots heard in another video, and one eyewitness says in this video that "ten sniper shots hit the war relief unit."

In the following images, the remains and fragments of the shell structure are taken from various sources mentioned above (source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4).

Casualties resulting from attacks

Many people were killed and wounded in the repeated attacks on Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz, which peaked in the second half of 2015. Due to multiple and conflicting reports of casualties, Yemeni Archive investigative team focused on documented human casualties by name and photo published on news websites, and social media.

In the October 25 attack, rough statistics indicate that one civilian was killed and others injured. In the November 11 attack, 11 civilians were killed or wounded, according to published names.

On November 12, 2015, Sky News Arabia reported that eight civilians were injured in the bombing of Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz. The Revolutionary Hospital Authority in Taiz issued a statement referred to as "press release No. 2", published by Taiz News Network on Facebook. The report states that one employee and eight other civilians were injured.

Several websites published names of those killed and wounded in the November 11, 2015 attack.

An approximate casualty count of incidents reported in the second half of 2015 indicates that 12 civilians were injured and three were killed in repeated attacks on the Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz by Houthi forces.