By Jenn Gidman
The world wanted evidence, and Israel now says it has it. On Sunday, the IDF said in a statement that it had discovered a tunnel underneath Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, proof that the militant group was using the hospital as a command center. The IDF had long insisted that was the case, therefore justifying making the hospital a target, though both hospital staff and Hamas had denied the allegations, per the Guardian. In new video footage, Israeli authorities show what they say is part of a sophisticated tunnel network underneath the hospital complex: a 33-foot shaft leading down to a 180-foot tunnel. The shaft and tunnel were said to have been revealed in the floor of the hospital’s parking garage after a controlled explosion to take care of a booby-trapped truck.
The New York Times reports that the IDF released two separate clips: one apparently filmed by a drone that shows part of a metal spiral staircase, the other a longer video seemingly “recorded by a robot or a camera carried by an animal” that shows the utility-cable-lined tunnel ending at a blastproof door with a firing hole built in, per the Times. The IDF notes that such doors are used “to block Israeli forces from entering the command centers and the underground assets belonging to Hamas.” CNN also has video of the tunnel shaft, as well as CCTV footage that appears to show Hamas militants bringing hostages from Israel to the hospital on Oct. 7.
Gaza’s Hamas-led Health Ministry said in a statement that the authenticity of the IDF footage hasn’t been confirmed, though it pointed out that the alleged hostage sightings inside the hospital only prove what they’ve been saying all along. “Given what the Israeli occupation reported, this confirms that the hospitals of the Ministry of Health provide their medical services to everyone who deserves them, regardless of their gender and race,” the statement noted, per the Times. The IDF had already shown weapons it says it found throughout the hospital complex. About 12,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel began airstrikes and a ground invasion following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, in which 1,200 or so people were killed and about 240 people were taken hostage.