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The Israeli army's raid on Gaza's biggest hospital, Al-Shifa, targeting the militant group Hamas, has sparked a torrent of international condemnation, with Qatar branding it a "war crime."

Israel has denied the accusation, saying its operation falls within the boundaries of international law.

Usually safe, but some exceptions

The Geneva Conventions, adopted in the aftermath of World War II, form the core of international humanitarian law and "are particularly protective of civilian hospitals", according to Mathilde Philip-Gay, an expert in international humanitarian law at Lyon-3 university in southeast France.

"It is forbidden to turn recognised civilian hospitals into a conflict zone. It is also forbidden to use civilian populations, the sick or the injured as human shields, it is a war crime, as is fighting from inside a hospital," said Philip-Gay.

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