Israel has published footage of what it claims is a 55-metre tunnel used by Hamas terrorists under Gaza’s main hospital.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claimed the tunnel, said to run 10 metres deep and leading to a blast-proof door, proved Hamas’s “cynical use” of patients and civilians sheltering at Al-Shifa hospital as “human shields”.
“This type of door is used by the Hamas terrorist organisation to block Israeli forces from entering the command centres and the underground assets belonging to Hamas,” said a military statement accompanied by a video showing a narrow passage with arched concrete roofing, ending at a grey door.
The statement did not say what was behind the door. The tunnel was accessed via a shaft discovered in a shed within Al-Shifa compound that contained weapons, the IDF said.
Mark Regev, a senior adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said troops had found a “command and control room on the minus 2 floor” of the hospital, without providing further evidence.
Israel has repeatedly said that Hamas has been operating a command centre from underneath the hospital, a focal point of its devastating six-week offensive in Gaza.
That claim has been echoed by the US, which said its own intelligence indicated that the complex has been used for military purposes. Hamas has denied that Al-Shifa doubled as a military base.
Stepping up its accusations of Hamas abuses at the hospital, Gaza’s largest, the IDF said on Sunday that the group had executed a 19-year-old soldier inside the complex after she was taken hostage during the terror group’s Oct 7 attack.
Noa Marciano was taken to the complex along with two foreign workers, of Nepalese and Thai nationality, after the cross-border raid, the Israeli military said.
“According to intelligence information – solid intelligence information – Noa was taken by Hamas terrorists inside the walls of Shifa hospital. There, she was murdered by a Hamas terrorist,” said Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, a chief spokesman.
Hamas said she died in an Israeli air strike and issued a video that appeared to show her corpse, unmarked except for a head wound. The Israeli military said a forensic examination found she had sustained non-life-threatening injuries from such a strike.
CCTV video aired by the IDF appeared to show a group of men frog-marching an individual into a hospital, to the surprise of medical staff. A second clip showed an injured man on a gurney. Another man nearby, in civilian clothes, had an assault rifle.
Hamas did not immediately comment on the footage. The terror group, which runs Gaza, has previously said it took some of the 240 hostages it seized from Israel to hospitals in the enclave for treatment.
Separately on Sunday, a British doctor who used to work at Al-Shifa hospital said there were areas of the complex where he could not go or he would be shot.
The doctor, who declined to be named, told French broadcaster France24 he had worked at the facility three years ago. “I saw a few dodgy-looking non-medical characters going in and out all the time,” he said.
“It was a ward leading to a basement. As I said, I didn’t go there, so I behaved myself. I cannot emphasise too much the air of collective paranoia that existed there.”
Meanwhile, Gazan health officials said 31 premature babies in “extremely critical condition” were evacuated from Al-Shifa safely on Sunday and would go to Egypt amid warnings from the World Health Organisation that the hospital has become a “death zone”.
More than 250 patients with severely infected wounds and other urgent conditions remained stranded at the facility.
After raiding the facility on Wednesday last week, the IDF said it had recovered the bodies of two Israeli hostages found close to Al-Shifa and an array of weapons, including explosives, within the hospital itself.
On Thursday, it said troops had uncovered a booby-trapped pickup truck stashed with AK47s, RPGs and sniper rifles in the grounds of the complex.