Israel-Gaza Situation Report: Claims Swirl Over Gaza Hospital Raid

Under intense global pressure to protect patients, staff and those sheltering, Israel says it doesn’t plan to stay at the Al-Shifa Hospital.

byHoward Altman|
Israel says it found proof that Hamas has been using the Al-Shifa Hospital as a military command center, a claim Hamas disputes.
(Israel Defense Forces via AP)
Share

The IDF says it has uncovered proof that Al-Shifa hospital has been used as a Hamas military headquarters and that it killed several Hamas fighters during its overnight raid of Gaza's largest largest hospital.

“An operational command center, weapons, and technological assets [were] found in the MRI building of the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City,” the IDF said on Telegram Wednesday. “IDF troops are continuing the precise and targeted operation against the Hamas terrorist organization in the Shifa Hospital.”

“As the soldiers entered the hospital complex, they engaged with a number of terrorists and killed them. Following this, during searches in one of the departments of the hospital, the troops located a room with technological assets, along with military and combat equipment used by the Hamas terrorist organization.”

Elsewhere in the hospital, the IDF said it found “an operational command center and technological assets belonging to Hamas, indicating that the terrorist organization uses the hospital for terrorist purposes.”

Those assets are being transferred “for full review by the relevant authorities.”

The IDF, however, has shown no tunnels or underground infrastructure yet.

The “precise and targeted operation against Hamas” is ongoing, said the IDF.

The War Zone could not independently verify the claims. The Pentagon, which yesterday said the U.S. has intelligence showing Hamas uses the hospital for military purposes, deferred questions asked by The War Zone to the IDF.

Hamas denied the IDF claims about the hospital, saying that the proof was planted.

"The terrorist Zionist occupation is still practicing blatant lying," Izzat Al-Rishq, a member of the political bureau of Hamas, said on Telegram. "More than 20 hours after attacking Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, and tampering with all its departments, in search of the alleged command and control rooms of the Hamas movement, and its captive soldiers and officers, the occupation came out to the world with a ridiculous theatrics. It was exposed that he brought some weapons, clothes, and tools and placed them in the hospital in a scandalous manner, telling lies and a fabricated story that no one would believe."

"We warned early on and said that the occupation would stage a play, like the one it claimed at Al-Rantisi Hospital, which was proven to be false," he went on. "And as we expected, here he is presenting his trivial and incoherent story and his scandalous allegations; The occupation has proven to be false in all its claims and narratives since the beginning of the aggression."

By midday local time, there was no sign that any of the more than 240 Israeli hostages seized by Hamas and its allies on Oct. 7 had been found at the site, according to Israeli Army Radio, a military-run outlet, The Washington Post reported. Israeli Army Radio said at least five militants had been killed; there were no Israeli casualties. “No friction has been recorded so far between the troops and any of the patients or medical staff,” the report said.

In an interview with CNN, IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht downplayed expectations for the raid.

“This mission wasn't focused on hostages,” he said. “We were focused on bringing intelligence and dismantling certain capabilities that we had intelligence on. It was something that was very very focused, and we went in a very sort of cautious way into the hospital. There will be more information coming out on what we found during the day.”

The goal of the mission, said Hecht, is not to show the world proof of assertions by Israel, the White House and Pentagon that Hamas is operating inside and under the hospital, but to dismantle those operations.

"We do not have a goal of staying in the hospital," said Hecht. "We're not targeting the hospital."

Calls mounted on Wednesday for Israel to provide evidence that the hospital is being used as a Hamas command center.

The IDF released video it says showed its troops providing humanitarian aid to the hospital, including incubators and food.

Throughout the night and into the day, there was sporadic fighting around the hospital.

Doctors Without Borders expressed concerns about the patients, medical personnel and those sheltering at the hospital.

The raid on ongoing battles in Gaza drew the strong ire of United Nations officials.

"I'm appalled by reports of military raids in Al Shifa hospital in Gaza," said UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths. "The protection of newborns, patients, medical staff and all civilians must override all other concerns. Hospitals are not battlegrounds."

"Our entire operation is now on the verge of collapse," said Phillippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of UNRWA. "By the end of today, around 70% of the population in Gaza won’t have access to clean water. To have fuel for trucks only will not save lives anymore. Waiting longer will cost lives."

The IDF said it captured another Palestinian outpost in northern Gaza.

"During the last few days, soldiers of the 14th Reserve Brigade, in cooperation with soldiers of the Armored and Combat Engineering Corps, secured Hamas' Falestin outpost in the northern Gaza Strip," the IDF said on Telegram. "The soldiers directed aircraft and artillery strikes until the outpost was secured."

The outpost "was used by the Hamas terrorist organization as a training base where the terrorists prepared to attack Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. Although it was disguised as a training facility, terrorist activities originated from the outpost. In addition, the IDF soldiers uncovered terror tunnels, explosives and mines intended to harm IDF soldiers. During the brigade's activity, dozens of terrorists were eliminated and dozens of anti-tank and mortar launch posts, observation posts and significant control infrastructure were destroyed."

Israeli forces continued clearing out other areas in Gaza City Wednesday. The IDF released video, which you can see below, of one of its D9 armored bulldozers clearing a street in front of the UNRWA Beach Health Center in the Rimal district. The video shows the bulldozer pushing cars - which can be used to hide improvised explosive devices - down a street.

The IDF also said it secured the main synagogue in the Netzarim settlement in Gaza. Its inhabitants were evicted as part of the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian enclave.

The Hamas parliament building, where Israeli troops took pictures of themselves holding the Israeli flag, has been demolished by the IDF. However, the wrong images of that may be circulating online.

Hamas said it has destroyed several Israeli tanks and other armored vehicles during fighting in Gaza.

"Since this morning, our mujahideen have been able to target a force of occupation soldiers with an anti-personnel device, killing and wounding them, and completely or partially destroying 11 Zionist vehicles in all areas of the incursion into the Gaza Strip," Hamas said on Telegram. The War Zone could not independently verify that claim.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad said it attacked Israeli forces in Rafah, near the border with Egypt.

For the first time, the IDF is urging residents of Khan Yunis to evacuate, a sign that its operations might be expanding elsewhere in Gaza.

"In leaflets distributed by the Air Force, the IDF calls on the residents of the eastern neighborhoods of Khan Yunis," Israeli Army Radio reported. "For your safety, you must evacuate your place of residence immediately and evacuate to one of the known shelters."

Citing an internal Defense Department list, Bloomberg is reporting that the Pentagon “has quietly ramped up military aid to Israel, delivering on requests that include more laser-guided missiles for its Apache gunship fleet, as well as 155mm shells, night-vision devices, bunker-buster munitions and new army vehicles.”

The weapons pipeline to Israel is extending beyond the well-publicized provision of Iron Dome interceptors and smart bombs, the publication reported. It continues even as Biden administration officials increasingly caution Israel about trying to avoid civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip.

The report cited a document outlining the requests from a "senior Israeli leader," of weapons that have been delivered in recent weeks or would be delivered to the IDF. It includes some 2,000 laser-guided missiles to arm Apache attack choppers and 57,000 155mm artillery shells.

The U.S. is also delivering 36,000 30mm shells, 1,800 M-141 bunker busting shoulder-fired rocket launchers and at least 3,500, night vision goggles out of the 5,000 requested by the Israeli government. The list also includes M4A1 assault rifles, 120 mm mortars and dozens of military vehicles. The U.S. also transferred two Iron Dome batteries and 312 munitions for them.

The cross border battles in the north are continuing.

"In the past hour, a number of launches were identified from Lebanon toward Israeli territory. No injuries were reported," the IDF said Wednesday. "IDF artillery is currently striking the sources of the fire. In addition, IDF tanks struck a Hezbollah observation post in Lebanon."

Hezbollah said it has targeted several IDF positions along the border using anti-tank weapons and rockets.

Reports of another hostage deal in the works between Israel and Hamas have emerged.

Mediators from Qatar on Wednesday were seeking to negotiate a deal between the warring parties that would see the release of around 50 civilian hostages from Gaza in exchange for a three-day ceasefire, an official briefed on the negotiations told Reuters.

The deal, under discussion, which has been coordinated with the U.S., would also see Israel release some Palestinian women and children from Israeli jails and increase the amount of humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza, the official told Reuters. It would mark the biggest release in hostages held by Hamas since the Palestinian militant group burst over the Gaza border, attacked parts of Israel and took hostages into the enclave.

Hamas has agreed to the general outlines of this deal, but Israel has not and it is still negotiating the details, the official said. It is not known how many Palestinian women and children Israel would release from its jails as part of the agreement under discussion.

Hamas, however, said that "the occupation continues to evade, procrastinate and gain time, with neither the desire nor the seriousness necessary to reach a truce agreement. He makes false and incorrect statements."

Israel "is still refusing and delaying the release of 50 women and children from detainees and a true humanitarian truce in exchange for the release of a number of women and children from our people in the occupation prisons, and the introduction of relief and humanitarian aid to all areas in the Gaza Strip with the necessity of providing a security environment. The occasion that allows movement to follow its completion," said Hamas.

The families of US citizens believed to be held hostage by Hamas were scheduled to meet with the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, Roger Carstens, at the US State Department this morning, CNN reported, citing a source familiar with their plans.

They will then meet Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in the afternoon.

The group met Monday with US national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Carstens at the White House.

For Jonathan Dekel-Chen, whose son Sagui is believed to be held hostage, Monday's meeting "assured" him that President Joe Biden's administration is "doing whatever is necessary" to secure the release of their loved ones. He told CNN he had "no doubt" that Biden was "totally committed."

In Israel, doctors and family members of Hamas hostages held a press conference.

Israeli Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir released video of a visit to a detention center holding Palestinian prisoners and bragged about the harsh conditions there.

"Today, together with the Shevast Police Commissioner, I visited the wings where the Nazi Nohva prisoners are kept," he said. "In accordance with our instructions, the terrorists receive the most stringent conditions: eight handcuffed terrorists in a dark cell, iron beds, toilets in a hole in the floor and the anthem of hope constantly playing in the background. I hope that my request to hold a discussion in the cabinet about the death penalty law for terrorists that we have already passed in preliminary reading will be answered, that the law will be promoted and we can apply it to these vile murderers."

Ben-Gvirt also said that firearms license applications in Israel have skyrocketed since the Oct. 7 Hamas invasion.

"Following the significant easing of the tests that allow carrying a firearms license that we carried out at the Ministry of National Security, hundreds of thousands of citizens entered the circle of eligibility for a private firearms license," he said. "Since the outbreak of the war so far, 236,006 new applications have been received. (the same amount as 20 years of routine activity). 31,048 conditional permits for private weapons were issued. of which over 18,000 citizens have already exercised the permit and purchased a gun. This is an increase of thousands of percent compared to previous years. I call on everyone who is eligible, due to the rush, be patient, and go arm yourself. A life saving weapon."

This is a developing story. We will update it with any new information about the Israel-Gaza war.

Author's note: we removed an erroneous tweet from this story.

Contact the author: howard@thewarzone.com

stripe