December 11, 2023

(CNN) — Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, has turn out to be a flashpoint in Israel’s struggle within the enclave, which started when Hamas militants crossed the border into Israel on October 7, killing round 1,200 individuals.

Palestinians and humanitarian businesses say the present preventing in and round Al-Shifa is proof of Israel’s wanton disregard for civilian life in Gaza, whereas Israel accuses Hamas of utilizing the medical middle as a defend for its operations. On high of offering medical care, the storied Al-Shifa Hospital has lately turn out to be a key shelter for 1000’s of Palestinian civilians fleeing Israeli bombardment.

Since launching its operation on the hospital on November 15, the Israel Protection Forces have proven photographs of a tunnel shaft and navy gear, however have but to indicate conclusive proof of the large-scale command and management middle it alleges is there, and which Hamas denies.

The IDF is now underneath strain to show the long-standing assertion with its promise of “concrete proof.” Its means to proceed its operation in Gaza, and the credibility of Israel, may very well be at stake because the quantity killed in Gaza surpasses 12,000, in accordance with authorities within the Hamas-controlled enclave.

Right here’s what we all know thus far.

What does Israel say?

For weeks, the IDF has mentioned Hamas makes use of Gaza’s largest hospital as cowl for what it calls terror infrastructure beneath floor. IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari mentioned Hamas has a command and management middle or headquarters beneath the hospital advanced grounds, which different senior Israeli officers have additionally insisted on.

In a presentation to the media final month, Hagari claimed that Hamas was directing rocket assaults and commanding operations from bunkers beneath the hospital constructing, which he mentioned have been linked to the community of tunnels that Hamas had dug beneath Gaza Metropolis.

The IDF additionally printed an “intelligence-based” illustrated video of what it claims the Hamas headquarters underneath Al-Shifa seems to be like. The video reveals a 3D diagram of the hospital, which strikes to indicate an animated community of purported tunnels and operation rooms.

CNN can not independently confirm Israel’s claims that Hamas is working a “command and management middle” from the hospital.

The White Home has backed Israel’s claims, saying that Hamas was storing weapons and working a command node from the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, citing US intelligence. However senior US officers have declined a number of occasions to increase on how they’re able to corroborate Israel’s claims, because the US doesn’t have a presence on the bottom in Gaza.

On Sunday, the Israeli navy additionally alleged that Hamas had introduced hostages into the hospital, exhibiting journalists CCTV footage of two obvious incidents. It additionally accused Hamas of getting “murdered” one other hostage – 19-year-old IDF Corporal Noa Marciano – at Al-Shifa after she was wounded in an airstrike. Marciano’s physique was recovered final week in Gaza Metropolis, and Hamas has blamed the airstrike for her loss of life.

How has Hamas responded?

Israel’s allegations have been vehemently denied by Hamas, the Gaza Well being Ministry, and hospital officers.

The director basic of the Hamas-controlled well being ministry, Dr. Medhat Abbas, instructed CNN that hospitals within the enclave “are used to deal with sufferers solely” and will not be getting used “to cover anybody.”

The well being ministry responded to movies and pictures launched on Sunday by the IDF by questioning their authenticity – however went on to say that if true, the photographs confirmed that hospitals in Gaza supplied medical care to anybody who wanted it.

In a press release issued Saturday earlier than the discharge of the CCTV movies, Hamas mentioned it had introduced a number of hostages to hospitals for medical therapy after they have been injured in Israeli air strikes.

After Israel launched its operation, Hamas accused the US of giving Israel “a inexperienced mild … to commit extra massacres in opposition to civilians” by amplifying what it known as a “false narrative” {that a} militant command middle lies someplace inside Al-Shifa.

‘Loss of life zone’

The sprawling medical facility of Al-Shifa, which sits within the western a part of Gaza Metropolis, was inbuilt 1946 when Gaza was nonetheless underneath British rule.

It has lengthy been seen because the spine of medical providers throughout the besieged Gaza Strip, and Israel’s operations there have compounded a grim humanitarian disaster, Palestinian well being officers have mentioned.

Docs who’re nonetheless on the hospital can not deal with sufferers because of heavy shelling prior to now week. Gasoline shortages and a scarcity of electrical energy imply they have been unable to run incubators for the infants. ICU sufferers and a number of other neonatal infants in Al-Shifa have died in latest days.

A gaggle of United Nations humanitarian employees visited Al-Shifa on Saturday, describing the hospital as a “loss of life zone” the place “indicators of shelling and gunfire” have been evident.

“The workforce noticed a mass grave on the entrance of the hospital and was instructed greater than 80 individuals have been buried there,” it mentioned.

A complete of 31 neonatal infants have been evacuated from Al-Shifa to southern Gaza, alongside six well being employees and 10 employees members of the family, the World Well being Group Director-Normal, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, mentioned on Sunday.

What proof has Israel given?

The Israeli navy on Sunday introduced a number of movies that it mentioned illustrated Hamas’ presence at Al-Shifa hospital, together with CCTV footage that appeared to indicate hostages being introduced by way of the hospital itself and separate footage from inside a tunnel shaft on the medical compound’s grounds. CNN can not independently confirm the content material of the movies.

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari mentioned the CCTV footage confirmed Hamas fighters shifting a Nepalese hostage and a Thai hostage by way of the hospital on October 7. One seems to be frog-marched by way of the constructing, whereas one other seems to be bleeding and is pushed on a gurney.

He didn’t spell out how the IDF had acquired the movies, although he did say that Israeli intelligence officers have been a part of the operation contained in the hospital to attempt to find the hostages.

Hagari dismissed strategies that the hostages had been dropped at the hospital as a result of they have been wounded, claiming that one of many two hostages within the movies was not injured and didn’t want medical therapy. They’d been dropped at the hospital first earlier than being moved to hiding spots like close by residences, he mentioned.

The our bodies of two Israeli hostages – a 65-year-old lady and an Israeli soldier – have been present in the identical neighborhood as Al-Shifa hospital, Israel’s navy has beforehand mentioned.

One other video filmed on November 17 and launched by the IDF on Sunday seems to indicate inside a tunnel shaft on the Al-Shifa hospital compound grounds. The footage reveals an underground tunnel containing a set of spiral stairs, and finally resulting in a closed steel door.

The IDF mentioned they’d not but opened the door because of attainable booby traps. “One of these door is utilized by the Hamas terrorist group to dam Israeli forces from coming into the command facilities and the underground belongings belonging to Hamas,” mentioned the IDF and the Israel Safety Company in a press release Sunday night.

The IDF had beforehand touted different alleged discoveries on the hospital grounds, saying troopers situated a room within the Al-Shifa hospital the place they discovered “technological belongings, together with navy and fight gear utilized by Hamas” for “terrorist functions.”

Hamas has rejected its claims as “baseless lies.”

CNN evaluation of separate footage printed on-line by the IDF previous to visits from worldwide media retailers suggests weaponry at Al-Shifa could have been rearranged.

An IDF video on November 15 confirmed a navy spokesperson touring the power, throughout which an AK-47 gun is seen behind an MRI machine. Fox Information and the BBC have been subsequently granted entry to the hospital. Of their studies filmed after the IDF clip, two AK-47 weapons are seen in the identical location. It’s unclear the place the second assault rifle got here from.

The IDF instructed CNN the discrepancy between the navy’s personal video and the BBC footage was, “because of the truth that extra weaponry and terrorist belongings have been found all through the day.”

“Solutions that the IDF is manipulating the media are incorrect,” it mentioned.

The United Nations has known as for entry to the positioning for an impartial investigation into the competing allegations and warned that hospitals shouldn’t be used as battlegrounds for any facet.

It is a creating story and will likely be up to date.

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