Al-Shifa hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip, has become the epicenter of ground fighting between the Israeli army and Hamas. On the night of Tuesday November 14 to Wednesday November 15, the IDF, which accuses the terrorist group of having installed a command center in the bowels of the establishment, carried out “precise and targeted operations”. On
In a seven-minute sequence video visibly shot during the day and published this night on the X account of the Israeli Defense Forces, Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus enters the medical imaging center (MRI) of al -Shifah. “What we found, and which is only the tip of the iceberg, confirms that Hamas systematically uses this hospital for its military operations,” he introduces. The first proof, according to the officer, is the destruction of the video surveillance cameras. A little further on, in a first room, the soldier exhumes a bag in which there are “automatic weapons magazines, an AK-47, cartridges, grenades and uniforms obviously hidden behind an MRI machine”.
In a cupboard where electric meters are installed, Jonathan Conricus reveals weapons found, he claims, by the army of the Jewish state. “They were placed here by Hamas, because it uses this place for its illicit military operations,” adds the soldier. In another room, “the complete equipment for a Hamas terrorist” is placed on an operating table: a pair of shoes, grenades, a tactical vest and an AK-47. The same paraphernalia is displayed on shelves a few meters away except for this detail as a badge of the al-Qassam brigades - the armed wing of Hamas responsible for the October 7 attack which left 1,200 dead in Israel according to local authorities - is stuck on a combat jacket.
Finally, the communications officer presents a stack of disks “which will be analyzed” and a blurred computer belonging, according to him, to Hamas and containing “numerous incriminating evidence”. In another video, since deleted and in which the computer is not blurred, the face of Ori Magidish, an Israeli soldier taken hostage and then released, appears on the screen. It is not possible to attest to the exact day on which this video was filmed, nor to authenticate it.
Another post, dated Wednesday, November 15, shows what "the Sheldag unit and other special units" found in this hospital whose Arabic name means "house of healing." This is probably all the equipment that appears in the video, with the exception of the computer: the combat jacket with the insignia of the al-Qassam brigades, grenade magazines and automatic weapons are thus exposed on carpets on the floor.
Notably, no tunnel was unearthed by the Israeli army under the hospital. Around 500 kilometers of underground passages and tunnels built by Hamas crisscross the Palestinian strip of land. This “Gaza Metro” allows them to move discreetly, store weapons or equipment, and keep hostages there. The IDF regularly accuses Hamas of passing these tunnels under buildings that accommodate civilians, particularly hospitals. On November 5, Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hagari showed international media videos of Hamas fighters emerging from a tunnel beneath al-Sheikh Hamad Hospital.
For some experts and terrorism specialists, these findings by the Israeli army are not enough to assert that al-Shifa hospital currently houses a Hamas operational center. “At the moment the use of the hospital as a command and control center is still not proven. The meager findings, compared to what was presented as the beating heart of the Hamas apparatus, do not justify the media and physical noise,” writes France 24 journalist Wassim Nasr on X. A reference to Israeli raids on the establishment where thousands of civilians have found refuge. “What was shown is not at the height of a command center, but at best the security of the hospital or a Hamas police station,” he adds in another publication .
As for the tunnels, military strategy expert Pierre Servent explained to France Inter, “it takes a certain amount of time” to, if they exist, discover them. “If there are tunnel exits, part of which are hidden, we need means to discover them, to see if the entrances are booby-trapped,” he explained.
This is not the first time that al-Shifa has been in the middle of fighting between the Jewish state and Hamas. In 2007, after Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip after forty years of occupation, Hamas took control of the hospital following bitter fighting against Fatah, the historic Palestinian nationalist party of Yasser Arafat. .
In 2008, during the first war between Hamas and Israel, the IDF accused the terrorist group of using it as a human shield. During future wars, the hospital became the nerve center of Gaza and was targeted by showers of Israeli bombs. “A persistent rumor has it that the entire Hamas government has taken up residence in the cellars of the hospital,” Le Figaro already wrote in 2012.
In 2014, the same accusations were made, immediately denied by Hamas. For its part, the NGO Amnesty International claims that the terrorist group tortured and killed Palestinians accused of having collaborated with Israel in the hospital premises. What the Washington Post confirms: “The hospital has become the headquarters of Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the corridors and offices.”