Israel fails to produce evidence supporting its claim that Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital sits atop Hamas’s HQ

Israel fails to produce evidence supporting its claim that Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital sits atop Hamas’s HQ

The Washington Post reports:

The Israeli raid of the Gaza Strip’s largest hospital stretched into its second day Thursday as troops searched for evidence of the extensive Hamas infrastructure that Israeli and U.S. officials have said lies beneath the facility.

The Israel Defense Forces said Thursday that searches had uncovered the body of a captive Israeli woman in a house near the hospital, along with weapons. On Wednesday, the IDF released photographs and video of small caches of weapons it said belonged to Hamas.

The military added to its case Thursday with a photo and video of a rough cavity that it described as an “operational tunnel shaft.” The Washington Post verified the location of the shaft inside the al-Shifa Hospital complex but could not verify where the opening led or what its purpose might be.

Israel has yet to produce findings that corroborate its claims that al-Shifa sits atop a Hamas headquarters and was central to the militant group’s operations in northern Gaza.

As cellular communications inside Gaza collapsed, aid groups said they had lost touch with their teams inside the hospital, and repeated calls by The Post to doctors and workers went straight to voice mail. The Post was eventually able to reach Ashraf al-Qudra, the Gaza Health Ministry spokesman based at al-Shifa.

“The soldiers and military machines are around the hospital, but every now and then they go in and out of the complex for their operation,” he said. He described fresh searches of several of the hospital departments.

Qudra said Thursday was the sixth day without food and water in the hospital, which has been surrounded by fighting. “That is why we are asking to immediately let in fuel and medicine and food and water into the hospital.”

The IDF said special forces soldiers were searching the hospital compound one building at a time, floor by floor. “The operation is shaped by our understanding that there is well-hidden terrorist infrastructure in the complex,” it said in a statement.

Israel is under intense pressure to bolster its long-standing claims that Gaza hospitals, and al-Shifa in particular, have served as Hamas hideouts — its justification for targeting the health-care facilities. An official in the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that any further evidence would be made public as soon as possible and that journalists would be given a chance to tour the sites. Teams from Fox News and the BBC were accompanied on brief trips to the hospital.

Israel had hoped the raid would turn up firm evidence of substantial militant activity in al-Shifa, a European diplomat told The Post on Thursday. But the absence of clear proof to date has already prompted Western allies including the United States to increase pressure on Israel to accept a pause in fighting, according to the diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter. [Continue reading…]

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