Israeli forces continue to search the hospital facility, where they say they discovered weapons as well as the entrance to a basement from which Hamas operated.
A “death zone”. After a short visit supervised by the Israeli army, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the al-Chifa hospital in Gaza still housed 250 patients and around twenty caregivers on Sunday, December 19. A week after the start of a military operation “targeted” inside the establishment, the largest in the Palestinian enclave, the IDF continued its search on Tuesday to try to uncover a Hamas command post.
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For weeks, the Jewish state has claimed that the terrorist group, author of the attacks which left at least 1,200 dead in Israel on October 7, uses al-Chifa hospital as an operational center. Enough to justify, according to the army, the continuous bombings which target the immense medical complex and which have left more than 13,000 dead throughout the Gaza Strip, according to figures from the Hamas Ministry of Health. .
Providing proof of these accusations, which Hamas has denied since the start of the conflict, is a key issue for Tel Aviv. The Geneva Convention, of which Israel is a signatory, prohibits any military operation against hospitals, unless they are used to carry out “acts harmful to the enemy”. However, the elements given so far by the IDF are struggling to convince the international community.
A staging of the weapons found in the hospital
As of October 27, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu broadcast on the social network a video showing a 3D model of the underground areas from which Hamas is accused of operating, under the al-Chifa hospital. The images show meeting rooms and a command center, connected by tunnels. That same day, an Israeli army spokesperson also released audio recordings and photographs proving, according to her, that Hamas compounds had an entrance to one of the hospital departments. The White House backed up the allegations in mid-November, saying the terrorist group was likely using the facility to hide weapons, reports France 24.
Hamas has consistently denied these accusations, which were also refuted by the hospital’s general director, according to the news channel. However, on Thursday November 16, the IDF published the first elements supporting this thesis. In a seven-minute video, shot on November 15 at midday according to Release, an IDF spokesperson shows several rooms in the hospital. It notably shows the contents of a bag discovered behind an MRI machine, containing an assault rifle, “cartridges, grenades and a uniform”.
“[Cela] fully confirms, without a doubt, that Hamas systematically uses hospitals for its military operations in violation of international law. And what we found, I think, is just the tip of the iceberg.”, says the soldier. Around ten assault rifles and cartridges, a few grenades, bulletproof vests… The arsenal found, presented in several photos published on Israeli army websiteis however “inconsequential”according to several observers cited by Release.
The IDF also assures that the video was filmed in one go, “without assembly”. Release however noticed that it was the subject of a cut. A journalist from New York Times also revealed on X that the video was deleted and then republished on the social network, the second version having been edited to remove a passage showing a photo of an Israeli hostage which appeared on a computer screen.
The entrance to a tunnel located
Other elements have also raised doubts among certain observers. On the evening of November 15, teams from the BBC and of Fox News were able to visit these rooms of the al-Chifa hospital, under the control of the Israeli army. Images shot by these two television channels show a second assault rifle in the bag discovered behind the MRI machine. Enough to suspect a possible stagingunderlines Release.
According to the team of the franceinfo show “Vrai ou Faux”, who contacted the BBC, the British media explains “that between the filming of the IDF video and their reporting, the Israeli army would have discovered new weapons, which would have been placed there afterwards.” The American journalists from Fox News did not, for their part, “could not independently verify where and when the objects were found on site.. “We have no reason to doubt that these weapons belonged to Hamasexplains our journalist Louis Augry. But here, it shows that the Israeli army does not hesitate to rearrange the premises before the arrival of the journalists, so that the signs of the presence of Hamas appear obvious.
After its raid on the al-Chifa hospital, the IDF initially did not provide evidence of the existence of a network of tunnels under the hospital complex. However, on Friday November 17, the Israeli authorities revealed a photo showing the entrance to an underground tunnel located on the site. CNNwho was able to go there on Saturday under surveillance by Israeli soldiers, describes “a ladder hanging on the edge of the opening”as well as what looks like the pole of a “spiral staircase”. “The tunnel went much deeper than we could see.”explains the American channel, which was unable to enter.
Two days later, the army released two videos showing the interior of this tunnel. She claims that it was discovered after the controlled explosion of a vehicle bomb located in a hospital hangar, reports the Guardian. The underground, filmed by a robot, is located ten meters deep and extends 55 meters long, according to the IDF. At the end is an armored door, “used by Hamas terrorists to prevent Israeli forces from entering the command center”, still assures the Israeli army. The verification cell RFI confirms that the entrance to the tunnel is indeed on the hospital site.
Unauthenticated hostage videos
Israeli authorities also released video surveillance images from the establishment dated October 7 on Sunday. According to an army spokesperson, they show hostages captured by Hamas during attacks against the Jewish state. We see in particular an injured man, surrounded by several individuals, some of whom are armed. That “proves that al-Chifa hospital was used as infrastructure by terrorists”said the IDF spokesperson.
Hamas claims to have taken hostages injured by Israeli strikes to this establishment for treatment, reports NBC. Based on archive photos, the American channel was able to confirm that one of the videos was filmed at the reception level of al-Chifa hospital. However, she cannot “not verify the veracity of the date displayed on the videos, when they were filmed or who appears in these images”. No other media has, for the moment, been able to independently authenticate these videos.
The Israeli army said on Monday that it was continuing its search operations to uncover the Hamas underground complex. “For the specific case of the al-Chifa hospital, we do not have any evidence that appears sufficient of the famous network that Israel has been talking about for weeks. All we have are these videos, these images that come to us from a single source, that of the army Israeli”underlined our journalist Louis Augry on Friday to explain the doubts which still hover over the revelations from Tel Aviv. “We must keep in mind that we are here in war communication, and that it deserves to be explained.”