The Israel Defense Forces revealed new intelligence Sunday it said provided further evidence that the Hamas terror group is using medical facilities in the Gaza Strip for terror purposes.
IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari briefed international media outlets with video footage of Hamas gunmen emerging from a tunnel under Sheikh Hamad Hospital, as well firing at Israelis forces from within the building itself.
War erupted between Israel and Hamas last month when the Palestinian terror group launched a massive attack that killed over 1,400 people. Israel has repeatedly said Hamas is using civilians as human shields, including by locating operations bases under hospitals. Captured Hamas terrorists have confirmed the claims, explaining that Hamas knows Israel will not bomb a medical center.
“Today, I will be sharing evidence proving that Hamas systematically exploits hospitals as part of its war machine,” Hagari said. “We decided to declassify and share more sensitive intelligence with you, because the world must take immediate action.”
Hagari presented a video showing an underground entrance from Sheikh Hamad Hospital, which he said connects to Hamas tunnel networks believed to run for hundreds of kilometers under the Palestinian enclave.
Another video showed Hamas gunmen opening fire at Israeli forces from the hospital.
“If it weren’t enough that we exposed a tunnel under the hospital, the terrorists also shot at our soldiers from within the hospital,” Hagari said.
He noted that construction of the hospital, located north of Gaza City, was funded by the Qatari government.
Hagari reported that the IDF has intelligence of a tunnel network under the so-called Indonesian Hospital, as well as aerial imagery showing rocket launchers a few dozen meters from the complex.
“Hamas systematically built the Indonesian Hospital to disguise its underground terror infrastructure,” Hagari said.
He also presented recordings of calls between Hamas officials describing their use of fuel reserves that belong to the Indonesian Hospital.
“Human shields are a key pillar of Hamas’s terror operations. Hamas systematically exploits hospitals as a key part of its war machine. This is the murderous organization we are dealing with. Hamas doesn’t even try to hide it. They say it loud and clear.”
The IDF has previously accused Hamas of having its main base of operations under Shifa Hospital, the largest medical center in Gaza, as well as hoarding fuel for terror purposes.
“Hamas moves fuel from the [Shifa] hospital to terrorists in Jabaliya,” Hagari said referring to a city north of Gaza City. “They steal the fuel from the hospital to fuel terror infrastructure.”
Separately, Hagari said the IDF has carried out intense efforts to warn Palestinians to evacuate from northern Gaza to its south.
He said the Israeli Air Force dropped more than one and a half million fliers in northern Gaza, and made over 20,000 phone calls to key people in those areas, in order to get the civilian population to evacuate.
“Our war is with Hamas, not the civilians in Gaza. We will not accept Hamas’s cynical use of hospitals, to hide their terror infrastructure. Hamas’s exploitation of hospitals must come to an end,” Hagari said.
He added that Hamas is trying to prevent the IDF from opening evacuation routes that northern Strip residents can use to reach safety in the south.
“The IDF adjusted our ground operations to keep the corridors from the north to the south open, but Hamas is attacking our forces, like yesterday, that opened this corridor! This is why we had to stop the corridor yesterday. Hamas tries to prevent Gazans from moving south.”
Israel does conduct strikes in the Strip’s south as well, and civilians have reportedly been killed there along with Hamas operatives, but its activity in those areas is far more limited.
Separately, the IDF on Sunday shared footage of its troops locating rocket-launching positions in civilian areas, amid efforts to uncover and destroy Hamas infrastructure. The terror group uses such sites to fire rockets at Israeli population centers.
Troops found four underground launchers some five meters (16 feet) from a children’s swimming pool, and around 30 meters from residential homes in the northern Gaza Strip, footage showed. Another clip showed troops locating a number of rocket launchers within a children’s playground and amusement park compound.
“This is further proof of the Hamas terror organization’s constant use of the civilian population as a human shield for terror purposes,” the IDF said in a statement.
The military has for weeks been urging northern Gaza residents to evacuate southward, warning them it will be focusing its military efforts on the Gaza City area, the heart of Hamas’s rule and its main base of operations in Gaza. At least 800,000 of some one million residents of the area have done so.
On Saturday morning, the IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee announced that between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. the Strip’s north-to-south Salah a-Din road would be open for Palestinians to evacuate to southern Gaza.
The IDF said Hamas took advantage of the situation and launched mortars and anti-tank guided missiles at troops working to open up the road for civilians. No soldiers were injured.
US President Joe Biden has also said that Hamas is using civilians as human shields.
Israel declared war with the aim of eradicating Hamas following the terror group’s devastating October 7 onslaught, in which thousands of terrorists stormed through the border and murdered some 1,400 people, mostly civilians killed in their homes and at a music festival, and abducted over 240 of all ages who are being held captive in Gaza. The Hamas assault came under a barrage of thousands of rockets fired across Israel. Hamas and other terror groups have continued to rain rockets on Israel, displacing over 200,000 Israelis.
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said Sunday that more than 9,770 Palestinians have been killed since Hamas sparked war with its murderous assault. Hamas figures cannot be independently confirmed, and the terror group has been accused of artificially inflating the death toll. The figures do not differentiate between terror operatives and civilians nor between those killed in Israeli strikes and those killed by the hundreds of rockets fired by terror groups that have fallen short inside the Strip.