The Israeli military claims Hamas is hiding key entries and exits for its 300-mile tunnel network beneath Gaza’s main medical center, al-Shifa hospital.
“Hamas has turned hospitals into command and control centers and hideouts for Hamas terrorists and commanders,” Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, Israel’s chief military spokesman, said at a news conference, according to Reuters.
Hagari presented photos, diagrams and audio recordings he said provided proof of the militant group’s subterranean operations under medical facilities.
The spokesperson said Hamas was using several hospitals — including the teeming Al Shifa location — to obscure command posts and entry and exits into its tunnel network.
Hamas has denied the tactic, arguing that Israel was using the claim as a pretext to target hospitals.
“There is no basis in truth to what was reported by the enemy army spokesman,” said Hamas official Ezzat El-Reshiq on Telegram.
A member of the group’s political arm, El-Reshiq said Israel held the press conference as “a prelude to committing a new massacre against our people,” Reuters reported.
Israel has continued to bombard Gaza in retaliation for Hamas’ deadly October 7 raid that killed 1,400 people and injured hundreds more.
The retaliatory strikes have killed roughly 7,000 people over the 20 days since the attacks, according to the Gaza health ministry.
Around 200 hostages captured by Hamas are thought to to be held somewhere in the tunnel system, and rescuing them is one the Israeli Defense Force’s top priority.
Hoping to address growing humanitarian concerns, UN officials have pushed for a ceasefire to allow for the delivery of aid into the blocked off enclave — where even the phone signal was jammed and internet were cut of Friday night, according to the BBC.
Roughly one million residents have been displaced by the violence. Israel cut off all fuel going into the Gaza strip after the Oct 7. Hamas terror attack and supplies of fuel for generators are running low, the organization cautioned Friday.
Hagari asserted Hamas was using fuel reserves in various hospitals to support its “terrorist infrastructure.”