4:25 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023
Israel claims soldiers found Hamas “military equipment” at Al-Shifa, but no evidence yet of tunnel network
Israel said its soldiers have uncovered what the army is calling “military equipment used by Hamas” during a raid at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.
Israeli forces entered Al-Shifa in the early hours of Wednesday, after signaling for weeks their intention to move on the complex, which they claim is the site of an underground command and control center for Hamas.
Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the military operation at the hospital “is still underway and will take time.”
“It’s a complicated area, which still has many people. We need to conduct in the right pace,” he said.
Doctors and health officials in the Hamas-controlled enclave have consistently rejected accusations that the hospital was the site of a command center.
In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said soldiers located a room in the hospital where they found, “technological assets, along with military and combat equipment used by Hamas.”
“In another department in the hospital, the soldiers located an operational command center and technological assets belonging to Hamas,” the statement went on, which indicated, the statement said, “that the terrorist organization uses the hospital for terrorist purposes.”
The statement said the IDF was continuing to operate in the hospital complex.
CNN is trying to contact the hospital to speak to doctors there, but phone calls are not going through.
Earlier in the day, a senior Israeli defense official said troops had uncovered “concrete evidence that Hamas terrorists used the Shifa hospital as a terror headquarters,” promising to present the evidence later.
Israel is under significant international pressure to prove its claims about Hamas’s infiltration of the hospital, in order to justify some of its military decisions — which could otherwise constitute a possible serious violation of international humanitarian law.
There is certainly no indication yet that troops have uncovered a multi-level tunnel structure with underground chambers — of the kind illustrated in an animation presented by the army spokesman at a briefing almost three weeks ago.
Hamas responded to earlier comments from the Israeli army – that troops had found weapons inside the hospital – as a blatant lie and propaganda.