Israel’s military on Sunday released video of what it said was a 55-meter section of a fortified tunnel running 10 meters beneath the Shifa Hospital complex in Gaza City, seeking to bolster its allegations that Hamas has used the largest medical center in the Palestinian enclave as a base for its military operations.
The military released two videos, one of which appeared to have been filmed by a drone and shows parts of a metal spiral staircase. A longer video, which appeared to have been recorded by a robot or a camera carried by an animal, starts out above ground and shows the descent to a cloister-like tunnel with utility cables along one wall that leads to what Israeli officials described as a blastproof door.
The door had a firing hole in it, the military said, adding that such doors are used by Hamas “to block Israeli forces from entering the command centers and the underground assets belonging to Hamas.”
The New York Times verified that both videos were recorded at Shifa Hospital, which Israeli forces stormed last week.
Hamas has denied Israeli accusations that it uses civilian infrastructure, including residential buildings, mosques and hospitals, to hide its military fortifications and command centers. The group says Israel is committing war crimes by targeting civilian centers.
The Israeli military also released videos later Sunday that it said showed two hostages being taken inside the hospital on Oct. 7. Taken together, Israeli officials said they offered strong evidence that Hamas had used the hospital area as part of its military operations.
Israeli officials said the second set of videos — which appeared to have been taken by cameras mounted inside the hospital — were recorded hours after the Oct. 7 assault and showed two hostages, one Thai and one Nepali, being escorted by armed fighters. The officials said they have no idea of the two hostages’ current whereabouts.
The Times verified the location of the footage as Shifa, but not the identities of those shown or the time stamps of the footage showing the hospital’s interior.
Gaza’s Health Ministry said in a statement that the authenticity of the videos could not be verified and blamed Israel for an “unjust” blockade that was causing health services to collapse and the deaths of hundreds of sick and injured.
“Given what the Israeli occupation reported, this confirms that the hospitals of the Ministry of Health provide their medical services to everyone who deserves them, regardless of their gender and race,” the ministry said.
The videos were released on the fifth day of the military’s operation inside the Shifa Hospital compound. Early Friday, the Israeli military escorted journalists from the Times through a landscape of wartime destruction to a stone-and-concrete shaft on the grounds of Shifa, close to a perimeter wall — the same shaft leading to the tunnel section that appeared in the videos released Sunday.
The military said it was still working with the Shin Bet security agency to uncover the route of the rest of the tunnel. It said the findings so far were evidence of “the cynical manner” in which Hamas uses the residents of Gaza as human shields — a claim that is central to Israel’s defense of the heavy death toll caused by its military campaign in the Gaza Strip.
More than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to health officials in the enclave. Israel bombarded Gaza with airstrikes and subsequently launched a ground invasion of the territory in response a surprise Hamas attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, in which about 1,200 people were killed and about 240 people were abducted and taken into Gaza. The vast majority of those killed or taken hostage are civilians.
Three weeks ago, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, Israel’s chief military spokesperson, held a news conference in which he said Shifa conceals underground command centers for Hamas, laying the groundwork for an Israeli operation inside the hospital compound. Hagari then displayed an illustrated map of the hospital marking what he said were several underground Hamas installations in the complex.
The military has displayed some weaponry it says it found in various parts of the Shifa compound, as well as a white Toyota pickup truck of the type used by many Hamas commandos who breached the border with Israel on Oct. 7.
But proof of such an extensive network has yet to be revealed. The military says it has to move slowly and cautiously, fearing the tunnels may be booby-trapped and seeking ways to expose and destroy them without bringing down the hospital, where some 300 patients and medical staff remain in dire conditions.
#Israels #Military #Releases #Video #Shows #Hamas #Tunnel #Shifa #Hospital