Israeli soldiers stand near the opening to a tunnel at Al Shifa Hospital compound in Gaza City (November 2023)

Iran International Reporter Tours Hamas Tunnel Under Shifa Hospital

Thursday, 11/23/2023

Iran International correspondent Babak Itzhaki has walked in a Hamas underground tunnel right beneath the Shifa Hospital in Gaza,the largest in the coastal sliver.

The reporter's observations substantiate that the terrorist group utilized the hospital as cover for both tunnels and operational centers. "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 last month.

Exploring the tunnel, Itzhaki was joined by Hagari, who showcased the weaponry and ammunition seized from inside the Shifa Hospital after Israeli forces assumed control of the place. According to Hagari, the majority of the weapons were discovered in the plastic surgery ward and also inside a caravan near the emergency room.

Iran International correspondent noted that the tunnels beneath the hospital spanned hundreds of meters, featuring amenities such as a bathroom and a kitchen. Some of these passageways were intentionally blocked in the middle by concrete walls, raising concerns that Hamas fighters might have planted explosives in certain sections of the tunnels, emphasized Itzhaki.

Inside Hamas tunnel network under Gaza

Reporters from Reuters, CNN, AFP, AP, and Fox News also visited the tunnel under the Shifa Hospital as Israel tries to show the world that Hamas is embedded in civilian facilities. Last month, a misfired rocket from Islamic Jihad, another Iran-backed militant group in Gaza, hit al-Ahli Baptist Hospital -- a Christian-run medical facility in central Gaza City --resulting in the deaths of at least 200 to 300 people, as reported by the Palestinian Health Ministry. However, other Palestinian sources cite numbers as high as 1,000.

Backed by Iran’s hefty financial and logistic support, Hamas Islamist militants attacked Israel from air and ground in a surprise attack on October 7, killing more than 1,400 Israelis and taking hostage over 220 others. Israel has recently extended its retaliatory bombing of the city to ground operation. The Israeli retaliatory campaign, which has led to the death of thousands of Palestinians, seems inevitable as Hamas has created an underground network of tunnels to move forces, smuggle weapons, infiltrate into Israel, and perhaps keep the hostages. This extends to hiding its key infrastructure under the likes of schools and hospitals.

Inside Hamas tunnel network under Gaza

The Palestinian Islamist group has different kinds of tunnels running beneath the sandy 360 sq km coastal strip and its borders -- including attack, smuggling, storage and operational burrows, Western and Middle East sources familiar with the matter said.

What lies in wait for Israeli ground troops in Gaza, security sources say, is a Hamas tunnel network hundreds of kilometers long and up to 80 meters deep, described by one freed hostage as "a spider's web" and by one expert as the "Viet Cong times 10".

One of the Palestinians who was leaving the hospital for southern Gaza told Iran International that he does not care about what has happened or what is going to happen to Hamas.“The only thing that matters to me is my own life and my children’s lives. We are really fed up.”

According to our reporter, heavy clashes still continue around the hospital.

With Israel in control of Gaza's air and sea access and 59 km of its 72 km land borders - with Egypt 13 km to the south -- tunnels provide one of the few ways for Hamas to bring in weapons, equipment and people. Its capability for smuggling has earned the Hamas leaders in exile a fortune running into billions as everything that goes in and out is subject to Hamas taxation.

A view of the way leading to a Hamas tunnel underneath a house near the Al Shifa Hospital

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