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IDF raided Al-Shifa hospital despite uncovering Hamas HQ miles away – media

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IDF raided Al-Shifa hospital despite uncovering Hamas HQ miles away – media

24 Nov, 2023

Israel has long insisted that the Palestinian militant group operates out of hospitals and other protected infrastructure

IDF raided Al-Shifa hospital despite uncovering Hamas HQ miles away – media

An IDF soldier enters what Israel has claimed is a Hamas tunnel at the Al-Shifa hospital complex ©  AFP / Ahikam Seri

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) raided Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital complex, insisting Hamas was using the healthcare facility as its “terror headquarters,” despite having uncovered the militant group’s actual headquarters just days earlier, Consortium News reported on Thursday. 

The outlet’s report cited a Jerusalem Post story published ahead of the controversial raid detailing how the IDF had discovered Hamas’ underground high command center – five miles (8.5km) away from the hospital. The IDF nevertheless went ahead with the assault on Al-Shifa, continuing to insist that the complex hid Hamas’ central base of operations without mentioning the discovery it had made days before.

The actual Hamas “pit” headquarters was reportedly accessible via an unusually deep (30 meters, or 98 feet) elevator shaft opening into an underground cavern outfitted with oxygen, air conditioning, and advanced communications technology, which bore signs of recent use by the group’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar and military chief Mohammed Deif, the IDF told the Post. 

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While the IDF pointed to an underground dormitory-style room and a handful of guns and grenades supposedly found during the raid on Al-Shifa as proof of a Hamas “bunker” inside the complex, reporters given tours of the findings pointed out that the weapons could have been brought in by anyone. The BBC also found the IDF’s supposedly unedited clip of the discovery had at least one edit.

The IDF subsequently unpublished the video of a lengthy presentation spokesman Daniel Hagari had delivered on October 27 that had laid out a 3D rendering of Hamas’ alleged command-and-control center inside the Al-Shifa complex from its website. The supposed sprawling operations center was said to encompass five separate buildings and tunnels connecting them all with various other assets. 

Failure to uncover such a structure has led news outlets like the Associated Press and The Guardian to question the claims that served as the basis for the raid on the hospital, a protected site under international humanitarian law. Israel has been accused of misrepresenting water reservoirs and elevator shafts inside Al-Shifa and other hospitals as “Hamas tunnels” in what critics say is an effort to justify what would otherwise be illegal airstrikes. A video purporting to show a Palestinian nurse complaining Hamas was “taking over” Al-Shifa was also exposed as fake, with the “nurse” identified as an Israeli actress.

While Washington initially backed the IDF’s claims that Hamas was using Al-Shifa as a command center, US officials began referring to the hospital as a “command node” instead even before the raid, suggesting an awareness that the militant group’s nerve center was elsewhere. Hamas and the doctors employed at Al-Shifa have always denied the hospital was used for military purposes.

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