Former prime minister Ehud Barak has caused controversy after telling CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that Israel helped build some of the underground spaces beneath Gaza’s Shifa Hospital.
During an interview, Barak said bunkers being used by Hamas for terror activity were originally “built by Israeli constructors.”
A surprised Amanpour responded: “When you said it was built by Israeli engineers did you misspeak?”
Barak answered: “No no, you know, some decades ago we were running the place… so we helped them… we helped them to build these bunkers in order to enable more space for the operation of the hospital.”
Amanpour said the comment “has sort of thrown me a little bit.”
Amanpour: "When you say [the bunker under al-Shifa] was built by Israeli engineers, did you misspeak?
Ehud Barak: "No, decades ago, we were running the place… we helped them to build these bunkers."
Amanpour: "Ok. That's sort of thrown me a little bit."pic.twitter.com/CTYfMij2V0
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) November 21, 2023
The clip has been widely disseminated online, with critics of Israel citing it as ostensible proof that Israel has been lying about Hamas building tunnels under Shifa and using the medical compound to shield itself from attack.
Israeli officials have said that while Hamas originally appropriated basement areas in the hospital — which was built by Israel when it still ruled Gaza — the terror group has since then dug several further floors and added tunnels to make the site a hub in its vast underground labyrinth.
Barak’s comments did not contradict Israel’s main argument — that Hamas has been misusing the spaces under the hospital for terror purposes.