The Israeli military on Wednesday unveiled what it claimed was a Hamas military facility under Gaza’s largest hospital, showing what appeared to be a subterranean dormitory to a group of foreign journalists who were given a rare glimpse inside the besieged enclave.
The facility, which was located under the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, was allegedly used by Hamas fighters as a command and control center, a weapons storage, and a hiding place. The Israeli military said it had discovered the facility during its ground operation in Gaza, which began on October 7, after Hamas gunmen stormed into southern Israel and killed more than 1,400 civilians and soldiers.
The Israeli military said it had invited the journalists to visit the facility, which was accessed through a hatch in the hospital’s courtyard, to expose the “cynical and immoral” use of civilian infrastructure by Hamas. It also said it had taken all necessary precautions to avoid harming the hospital and its patients, and that it had coordinated with the UN and other humanitarian organizations.
The journalists, who were escorted by the Israeli military at all times, were shown a narrow tunnel that led to a spacious room, where they saw several bunk beds, mattresses, blankets, pillows, clothes, toiletries, and food. They also saw a chair with a rope next to it, which the Israeli military said could have been used to torture or interrogate hostages. They also saw a makeshift toilet, a generator, and a water tank.
Guns and Grenades
The Israeli military also showed the journalists several guns, grenades, rockets, and explosives, which it said were found in the facility. It also showed them a video, which it said was captured by a drone, that showed Hamas fighters entering and exiting the facility through the hatch.
The Israeli military said the facility was part of a vast network of tunnels that Hamas had built under Gaza, and that it had destroyed hundreds of them during its offensive. It also said that Hamas had used the facility to launch attacks on Israel, and to hold hostages, including Israeli, American, British, French and German nationals, who were taken by Hamas on October 7.
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, which operates the Al-Shifa Hospital, denied the Israeli military’s claims, and said that the facility was a water reservoir that the hospital used for its therapeutic pools and as a backup water source. It also said that the Israeli military had fabricated the evidence and staged the scene, and that it had violated the international law and the human rights of the patients and the staff.
The war between Israel and Hamas has claimed more than 13,000 Palestinian so far, according to health officials. The UN has said that more than half of Gaza’s population lacks access to basic services and humanitarian aid, and that more than 30,000 people have been injured by Israeli attacks.
The international community has urged both sides to de-escalate the situation and resume negotiations for a lasting peace. However, both Israel and Hamas have rejected any calls for a ceasefire without meeting their conditions.
Israel has demanded that Hamas stop firing rockets and disarm completely. Hamas has demanded that Israel end its blockade of Gaza and its occupation of East Jerusalem.