Israel claimed its soldiers have found a tunnel shaft used by Hamas militants at Gaza’s Al Shifa hospital, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country’s forces had discovered a command centre under the hospital along with bombs and weapons.
Hamas, however, said in a statement late on Thursday that claims by the Pentagon and US State Department that the group uses Al Shifa for military purposes “is a repetition of a blatantly false narrative, demonstrated by the weak and ridiculous performances of the occupation army spokesman”.
Top updates on Israel-Hamas war in Gaza:
- The Israeli Army released a video it said showed a tunnel entrance in an outdoor area of Al Shifa, Gaza’s biggest hospital. The video, which HT could not verify, showed a deep hole in the ground, littered with and surrounded by concrete and wood rubble and sand. It appeared the area had been excavated; a bulldozer appeared in the background.
- The Israeli Army also said its troops found a vehicle in the hospital containing a large number of weapons.
- In an interview on the CBS Evening News on Thursday, Netanyahu said “terrorist chieftains and terrorists” had fled the hospital grounds as the Israeli military approached. “Now we’re doing this very gingerly, because we’re, we’re trying to do the moral thing, the right thing,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying. “To deprive Hamas of having this safe zone in the hospital but at the same time to neutralise its use as a command centre for terrorists,” he said.
- The United Nations voiced concern no aid would be delivered to Palestinians on Friday via the Rafah crossing with Egypt.
- The two telecoms companies in Gaza said all energy sources supplying the network had run out and therefore all services in the territory were down. Israel refuses fuel imports, saying Hamas could use them for military purposes. With communications out and in the absence of fuel, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said it was impossible to coordinate humanitarian aid truck convoys.
- Ashraf al-Qudra, the spokesman for the health ministry in Gaza, said “thousands of women, children, sick and wounded are in danger of death” as Israel continues its raid on al-Shifa for a third night, Al Jazeera reported.
- President Joe Biden defended Israel’s military operation at Gaza’s largest hospital, standing behind the US ally in the face of international criticism of the raid. Biden said Hamas headquartered their military operations underneath Al Shifa hospital, an act he labelled a “war crime,” and added that Israel had taken precautions to limit civilian casualties in the incursion.
- Palestinian civilians have borne the brunt of Israel’s weeks-long military campaign in retaliation for an October 7 attack by Hamas that Israel says killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Gaza health authorities deemed reliable by the United Nations says at least 11,500 people have been confirmed killed in an Israeli bombardment and ground invasion – more than 4,700 of them children.
- Israeli officials said Hamas held some of the 240 hostages taken by gunmen on October 7 in the hospital complex. The body of a woman hostage was recovered by troops in a building near Al Shifa on Thursday, the army said.
(With inputs from agencies)
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