Israel fails to substantiate its allegations of Hamas’ underground command centre beneath Al-Shifa Hospital

Daily News Egypt
9 Min Read

The Israeli aggression on Gaza has claimed the lives of 11,500 people and injured nearly 30,000 others in 40 days of relentless bombardment on the besieged enclave, the government media office in Gaza said on Wednesday. It added that the Israeli occupation forces committed 1,200 massacres and demolished 95 government buildings, 25 hospitals, and 52 health centres, rendering them unusable.

On Wednesday morning, the Israeli occupation forces raided the Al-Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza, the largest and most vital hospital in the Strip. Israel has previously alleged that the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) has constructed a huge underground command centre under the hospital, connected by tunnels, a claim that Gaza health officials and Hamas have denied. Israel also asserted that it has intelligence information about a subterranean city for the resistance under the complex, which allegedly houses the Israeli captives in Gaza.

In a press conference on Wednesday evening, the spokesperson of the Israeli spokesperson announced that none of the Israeli claims was real, as they found no tunnels or evidence of a Hamas command centre under the hospital, but they need “a few days to search the hospital carefully.” 

Also on Wednesday, the director of the Al-Shifa Medical Complex, Mohamed Abu Salamiya, said that the Israeli army was still occupying several hospital buildings, and shooting at anyone who moved. He said: “We cannot reach the pharmacy to treat patients, as the occupation shoots everyone who moves.”

Abu Salamiya explained in media statements that the Israeli army interrogated several workers in many hospital departments, and added that water, electricity, and oxygen were cut off from all departments of the hospital.

He said that the hospital departments were closed to those trapped inside, and no one could enter or leave. He also said that they were unable to communicate with doctors to inquire about the condition of the patients, especially premature babies.

Abu Salamiya reported that the water line supplying the hospital had exploded, and said, “We do not have a drop of water.” He said that the emergency department was completely closed and had hundreds of wounded people and that more than 900 patients and 5,000 displaced people faced certain deaths. He also said that no doctor could move from one place to another inside the hospital.

He called for the urgent delivery of fuel to all hospitals, and coordination for the safe evacuation of children and patients from Al-Shifa Hospital.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that they entered Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza despite demands not to enter, and said: “There is no place in Gaza that we will not reach,” according to Israeli media.

The General Director of Hospitals in the Gaza Strip, Mohamed Zaqout, said that the Israeli army interrogated the patients, companions, and medical staff for 10 hours. He said that the Israeli army did not allow children to be brought to nurseries and that children and kidney patients at Al-Shifa Hospital were in grave danger. 

He said: “Premature babies need care, solutions, and medicines, and they are in grave danger. The staff and patients at the Al-Shifa complex cannot move from one area to another. We demand that the patients be evacuated to Egypt for treatment. No aid has entered us from the Rafah border crossing for two weeks.”

The Government Information Office in Gaza said that the Israeli army’s storming of the Al-Shifa Medical Complex and opening fire inside it was a war crime. It said that what it described as Israel’s lies about the existence of safe passages were “dirty propaganda and baseless allegations.”

It also said that the Israeli army executed many families who tried to leave Al-Shifa Hospital, killing more than 30 people. The Israeli army also blew up a warehouse of medicines and medical devices inside the complex.

In the meantime, the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of waging a “war on the Palestinian existence” in Gaza on Wednesday. He said, “The unjust, aggressive war that we are facing is a war against the Palestinian existence and the Palestinian national identity, the identity of the land and the identity of the people.”

He added: “We are confronting together a barbaric war of aggression and an open war of genocide against our people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including Jerusalem, our eternal capital.”

On the same day, the Israeli occupation forces raided the Al-Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza, the largest hospital in the besieged Strip, which shelters thousands of people displaced by the Israeli aggression on the cities of the Strip. This happened despite international appeals not to attack the hospital.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that they had lost contact with health workers at Al-Shifa Hospital, and expressed their deep concern about the safety of staff and patients. They said that their protection was crucial. The WHO also said that there were about 3,500 beds in Gaza hospitals before the aggression, and today there are only about 1,400. They said that patients, health workers, and ambulances could not enter or leave some hospitals.

The WHO also said that the urgent needs were a ceasefire, the opening of the Rafah crossing, and the restoration of electricity and fuel supplies.

Moreover, The United Nations said that the quantities of fuel that entered the Gaza Strip were insufficient at all. Earlier on Wednesday, regional media quoted two Egyptian security sources as saying that a truck loaded with fuel began crossing from Egypt into the Gaza Strip, which is the first since Israel imposed a comprehensive siege on the Strip during its ongoing 40-day war. “Israel allowed 24,000 litres of diesel fuel to enter Gaza, to be used by UN aid distribution trucks and not for hospitals.” 

Furthermore, The Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the Israeli occupation forces raid on Al-Shifa Hospital as a violation of international humanitarian law, especially the Geneva Convention. It held Israel responsible for the safety of civilians and medical staff working in the hospital.

The ministry emphasized that “the dangerous situation in Gaza requires the UN Security Council to bear its legal responsibility and the international community to bear its moral responsibilities and work to pressure Israel, the occupying power, to stop its ongoing aggression, war, and targeting of civilians, especially women, and children, which cannot be justified by any reason or excuse.”

In addition, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that his country would continue to “isolate Israel internationally and provide all forms of support to Palestine.” He said that Israel would be known as a “cursed terrorist state” everywhere in the world. He added, “We will continue to isolate Israel in the international arena while providing all forms of humanitarian support to Palestine in a dual plan.”

He also said that Turkey would continue “to take steps to ensure that Israeli political and military leaders are tried before international courts after they brutally killed the oppressed people of Gaza.” He claimed that “Israel is implementing a strategy of destruction of Gaza City and its residents. I say it frankly and with a calm heart: Israel is a terrorist state.”

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