In interrogations, Hamas, PIJ operatives describe using Shifa hospital as terror hub

Terrorists reveal how they used ‘Shifa or schools’ as shelter, operatives disguise themselves as nurses, say Hamas has 600-1,000 members at facility, stores arms in residency ward

Islamic Jihad operative Nabeel Rajab Abed Shteiwi is seen being interrogated in a video released by the IDF on March 26, 2024, after he was detained by the IDF near Gaza City's Shifa Hospital. (Screenshot/Israel Defense Forces)
Islamic Jihad operative Nabeel Rajab Abed Shteiwi is seen being interrogated in a video released by the IDF on March 26, 2024, after he was detained by the IDF near Gaza City's Shifa Hospital. (Screenshot/Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces Intelligence Directorate on Tuesday released video footage of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives detailing how the terror groups used Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital as a base for terror operations.

The terror operatives were detained in the vicinity of Shifa Hospital in recent days amid the ongoing large-scale military operation that began last week, the military said.

The Islamic Jihad operative, identified by the IDF as Nabeel Rajab Abed Shteiwi, said during the interrogation that he has been working with the terror group in missile production since 2012.

“Shifa, or schools and places like that, are our shelter,” Shteiwi said of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas, adding that he was living in the hospital for three months.

Asked by the interrogator where the group’s headquarters inside the hospital are located, Shteiwi said that the group “does not have specific headquarters. They are in all the buildings, scattered everywhere.”

He said that a large number of Hamas operatives use the hospital’s “Specialist Building” as their hub, but added that this “doesn’t mean that they aren’t in other buildings” as well.

As to how so many terror operatives can move around the hospital undisturbed, he said, “You might see someone who doesn’t look like a nurse, but is dressed in nurse clothes walking around.”

The IDF also released footage from the interrogation of Hamas operative Bakr Ahmed Bakr Qanita, who said he was in Shifa Hospital for 25 days.

He described his role in the terror group as being “in charge of the defensive area in Gaza” and said he was responsible for 143 people.

Telling the interrogator that there are 600-1,000 Hamas operatives inside the hospital, Qanita said that there are “certain places” in Shifa that belong to the group, including in the medical residency department where terror operatives store weapons.

He confirmed that the group uses the Specialist Building as one of its primary locations, as Shteiwi said, along with the Management Building.

“I told the officer there where the Islamic Jihad places are, like in the Maternity Ward for example,” he added, describing it as their “headquarters.”

Mortars captured by IDF troops at Shifa Hospital’s MRI center, in a video released on March 25, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The two terror groups tend to use hospitals across Gaza as their operation hubs because of “the large population and the large displacement,” Qanita said, adding that access to water and electricity is also a factor in the decision.

“In the end, the civilians, the sick, the injured, are affected by this,” Qanita stated.

In a statement released alongside the video footage, the IDF said “the terrorists disclosed details of Hamas terror infrastructure deeply embedded within the hospital, which is used by senior Hamas operatives for planning and directing terror attacks.”

Troops have detained 500 confirmed members of Hamas and PIJ since the beginning of the raid, according to the latest information provided by the IDF.

International law stipulates that while a medical facility is a protected site in conflict, it loses that status if it is used for military activity. Israel has offered evidence Hamas uses such facilities as cover for terror purposes and says the group plunders humanitarian aid to take supplies for its fighters, depriving the civilian population.

Israel has said those arrested at Shifa include several “very significant” senior Hamas and PIJ commanders. Seemingly confirming that, an unnamed Hamas official told Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper on Monday that the significance of commanders from the group who had been detained or killed during the operation should not be underestimated.

The IDF on Monday accused Hamas gunmen of firing at troops from Shifa Hospital’s emergency room, maternity and burn wards, effectively “destroying” the hospital.

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