Troops find car belonging to hostage, armed Hamas truck in northern Gaza hospital

IDF says Toyota owned by family of Samar Talalka, hostage mistakenly slain by the military, was recovered next to Indonesian Hospital, with bloodstains traced to another hostage

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

A vehicle belonging to an Israeli hostage (right) and a Hamas pickup truck (left) are seen at northern Gaza's Indonesian Hospital, in a video published by the IDF on December 25, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
A vehicle belonging to an Israeli hostage (right) and a Hamas pickup truck (left) are seen at northern Gaza's Indonesian Hospital, in a video published by the IDF on December 25, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli troops found a car belonging to an Israeli hostage as well as a Hamas pickup truck at northern Gaza’s Indonesian Hospital, the IDF announced on Monday, which it said further highlights the terror group’s use of medical centers in the Strip.

Troops of the Navy’s Shayetet 13 commando unit and reservists of the 551st Brigade raided the hospital in recent weeks, finding “a host of materials linking it to Hamas activities,” the IDF said in a statement.

A white Toyota pickup truck containing weapons, similar to those used by Hamas during its October 7 onslaught in southern Israel, was found at the complex, along with a Toyota Corolla with Israeli license plates.

The Corolla belonged to the family of Samar Talalka, an Israeli hostage who was mistakenly killed by IDF troops in Shejaiya earlier this month.

Inside the car, troops found blood stains that were identified as belonging to another hostage, as well as parts of an RPG launcher, according to the IDF.

The IDF has accused Hamas of using medical centers in Gaza, including the Indonesian Hospital, as bases.

A massive Hamas tunnel network recently discovered and destroyed by IDF troops in the Jabaliya area had branches going underneath the medical center.

During the ongoing fighting in Gaza, the IDF says it identified armed operatives of Hamas’s elite Nukhba forces inside the hospital, which was allegedly being used as a staging ground.

The IDF said that it also recovered the bodies of five Israeli hostages earlier this month next to the massive tunnel network. Troops deployed to probe the tunnel eventually found and recovered the remains of three soldiers and two civilians: Warrant Officer Ziv Dado, 36, Cpl. Nik Beizer, 19, and Sgt. Ron Sherman, 19, as well as civilians Elia Toledano, 28, and Eden Zacharia, 27.

The tunnel shafts, investigated by troops, revealed a massive tunnel network with two levels and an elevator heading down dozens of meters to a large hall and command center, the IDF said.

Branches of the network stretched under a nearby school as well as the Indonesian Hospital, according to the military. One tunnel included a shaft leading directly to the home of the former commander of Hamas’s northern Gaza brigade, Ahmed Ghandour, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike weeks ago.

Weapons and infrastructure used to manufacture weapons were also found in the tunnel, the IDF said. The entire network was spread over an area about a square kilometer in size, according to military assessments.

Some 1,200 people in Israel, most of them civilians, were massacred on October 7 by thousands of armed terrorists who rampaged through Israeli communities that day. Another approximately 240 people were kidnapped, including women, children and the elderly.

Gaza’s Hamas-controlled health authorities claim Israel’s bombing campaign and fighting on the ground have killed over 20,000 people in Gaza, though the figures cannot be verified and Hamas has been accused of inflating casualty figures in the past. Hamas does not differentiate between civilians and combatants, though it claims that the dead include thousands of women and children. The figures include civilians killed by misfired Palestinian rockets.

The IDF says it has killed some 8,000 Hamas operatives in Gaza and another 1,000 terrorists during and immediately after the October 7 attacks.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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