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Israeli military says video shows Hamas tunnel near al-Shifa hospital

Israeli military says video shows Hamas tunnel near al-Shifa hospital

The Israeli military has released videos of what it says is a more than 180-foot-long Hamas tunnel buried more than 30 feet underneath the al-Shifa hospital complex, which it says is evidence for allegations that Hamas uses the Gaza Strip’s largest medical center as cover for its command center to plan attacks against Israel. 

Israel’s military released two videos Sunday seeking to demonstrate the entrance to the tunnel shaft and the proximity to al-Shifa hospital. The New York Times reported that its journalists viewed the tunnel shaft entrance on the grounds of al-Shifa while escorted by the Israeli military, verifying its location. 

Israel accuses Hamas of cynically operating a command center under al-Shifa hospital, an allegation the Biden administration says U.S. intelligence supports. President Biden has defended Israel’s military incursion into the hospital as justified, saying Israel has an obligation to dismantle Hamas’s ability to carry out attacks. 

In the first video, a drone appears to capture footage going down into the tunnel shaft at the center of an area of destruction and debris. The drone camera descends into the vertical tunnel, blocked by bent metal and concrete debris, and appears to show a metal, spiral staircase. 

Another video shows what appears to be drone camera footage from a robot, descending into the tunnel, showing a staircase, traveling through a tunnel and then stopping at a door the Israeli military said is blast-proof and includes a firing hold.

The military said the tunnel shaft was uncovered in the area of the hospital underneath a shed alongside a vehicle containing numerous weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), explosives and Kalashnikov rifles. 

The Israeli military said it is continuing to uncover the route of the tunnel with the help of Israel’s Security Agency, the Shin Bet. 

The video footage accompanies Israel’s further incursion into the hallways of the hospital where the military has shown what it says are weapons caches stored behind MRI machines and in hallways and rooms of the hospital. 

The group has further said Hamas transferred hostages the group kidnapped from Israel on Oct. 7 to be held at the hospital. Israel published a video it said was taken from al-Shifa hospital cameras showing hostages — an Israeli woman, a Thai civilian and a Nepalese civilian — being held as prisoners in the health facility. The New York Times said it verified the video footage was from the hospital but could not verify the hostages' identities or the time of the video.

The Israeli military and Shin Bet, in a joint statement, said that the bodies of two hostages, a soldier and an elderly civilian woman, were found near the al-Shifa hospital. 

Hamas denies it has built a command center in and around the hospital and said the “well being of injured Zionist prisoners was meticulously monitored,” and the hostages were treated for medical injuries before being taken to different “places of detention.” 

Israel has been condemned for carrying out its military operation in the Gaza Strip and the hospital, in particular. A joint United Nations humanitarian assessment managed to enter the hospital in coordination with the Israeli military and described the hospital as a “death zone” and the situation “desperate.” 

The U.N. team, in an assessment published on Saturday, said 25 health workers and 291 patients remained in al-Shifa, with several patient deaths occurring over the previous two to three days. Patients included 32 babies in extremely critical condition, two people in intensive care without ventilation and 22 dialysis patients whose “access to life-saving treatment has been severely compromised.” 

The Israeli military said Monday that over the past few days, it has helped facilitate the evacuation of newborn Gaza babies from the pediatric ward of al-Shifa to receive medical treatment in Egypt.