Israeli forces said they uncovered weapons and other evidence that “fully confirms” that Hamas was using Gaza’s largest hospital for covert military purposes after a raid early Wednesday that brought an extra level of chaos to a medical facility that lacked electricity and other basic needs for several days. .
The Israel Defense Forces wrote a seven-minute long, one-take video from inside Al-Shifa hospital’s MRI wing, showing rifles, grenades, ammunition and combat vests with the Hamas logo that the IDF says it found during its raid.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an IDF spokesman demonstrating the weapons and other military equipment in the video, said the items “fully confirm, without any doubt, that Hamas systematically uses hospitals in its military operations in violation of international law.”
The results could not be independently verified. The video did not show any tunnels or the command center that the Israeli military says Hamas maintains at the hospital.
In a statement blaming Israel and President Joe Biden for a raid based on a “false claim,” Hamas said the White House and the Pentagon had given the Israelis a free pass “to commit more massacres against civilians.”
The UN estimates that at least 2,300 staff, patients and displaced Gaza civilians have sought refuge at the sprawling Al-Shifa compound as Israeli forces have rolled through Gaza since Hamas militants’ violent border assault on October 7.
After storming through the hospital earlier in the day, the Israeli military maintained an imposing presence overnight, with tanks stationed outside and snipers on nearby buildings, Munir al-Boursh, a senior official with Gaza’s health ministry inside the hospital, told The Associated Press.
“Patients, women and children are terrified,” he told the AP by phone.
Israeli officials said in a statement that the military brought medical teams, incubators, baby food and medical supplies into the hospital compound to ensure “no harm is caused to the civilians who are being used by Hamas as human shields.” Lt. Col. Richard Hecht also told CNN that no gunfire had taken place on the hospital grounds.
Israel has claimed for weeks that Hamas was hiding militants and assets in Al-Shifa and other Gaza hospitals. The White House said this week it had intelligence corroborating the claim, which Hamas leaders have repeatedly denied.
IDF enters Gaza hospital:Hamas’ goals; thousands in DC rally for Israel
∎ Reuters, citing three unnamed sources, reported that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently told Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh that Iran will not enter the war in support of the militant group. This is encouraging news for the US and Israel, which have been working to prevent the war from spreading.
∎ The head of UNRWA, the United Nations relief agency for Palestine refugees, confirmed on Wednesday that it has received 6,000 liters of fuel that crossed into Gaza via the Rafah crossing, but said much more is needed.
∎ Only about 10 of the 36 hospitals in Gaza are still operating, as fuel shortages and war damage have forced nearly 75% of them to close, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. WHO’s Gaza representative, Dr. Rik Peeperkorn, said more than 80 bodies from the Shifa hospital were buried in a mass grave on Wednesday and another 80 were left unburied.
∎ Israel’s Knesset approved legislation granting honorary Israeli citizenship to non-citizens killed in the fighting, the Times of Israel reported.
∎ Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau’s plea to Israel to stop the “killing of women, children and babies” in Gaza drew a sharp rebuke from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday on social media: “@JustinTrudeau, It is not Israel that deliberately attacks civilians, but Hamas that beheaded, burned and massacred civilians in the worst horrors committed against Jews since the Holocaust.”
White House: No prior authorizations for Israeli military operations
Israeli military operations in Gaza, including at the Shifa hospital, have been planned and carried out without prior approval from the Biden administration, White House spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday. He said the United States believes hospitals should be protected. That means no airstrikes and redoubled efforts to prevent civilians, patients and medical personnel from falling victim to crossfire between Hamas and Israeli forces. But Kirby said he understands Israel’s urgent need to push forward.
“We know that Hamas uses hospitals like Al Shifa for command and control for storage facilities, even sometimes, as a kind of barracks for their fighters,” Kirby said.
− Francesca Chambers
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have fled from the hard-hit north of Gaza to the south at Israel’s behest. They haven’t necessarily found a peaceful haven.
In addition to overcrowded shelters and shortages of fuel and other necessities, the refugees find battered buildings and streets subject to frequent bombardment that still continues. Israel has said there are Hamas targets in the south it must hit as part of its campaign to dismantle the militant group and that it is trying to limit the impact on civilians.
The Egyptian Mohammad al-Abdallah has been trying to leave Gaza since the bombing started. “They asked us to come from the north,” he said. “And when we arrived, we lived in an apartment here and we were bombed. Do they want us to die? That’s enough.”
Hamas or another foreign terrorist organization could take advantage of the current conflict in Gaza to carry out attacks on American soil, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Wednesday. Wray, testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security, cited a “rogue gallery” of foreign terrorist organizations, including Hamas, that have called for attacks against Americans and American allies since Oct. 7. Immediate concerns include “lone wolf” individuals or small groups inspired by events in the Middle East, he said.
“While this is certainly a time for heightened vigilance, it is by no means a time to panic,” Wray said. “Americans should continue to be alert and cautious, but they should not stop going about their daily lives.”
Israeli forces began their assault on Gaza hours after Hamas militants stormed Israeli border communities on October 7 in a violent rampage that left more than 1,200 people dead, most of them civilians, and more than 240 people taken hostage , according to the Israeli military. Gaza’s health ministry says more than 11,000 Palestinians have died in the Israeli offensive aimed at freeing the hostages and crushing Hamas.
UN humanitarian chief joins calls for ceasefire
The UN’s top humanitarian official, Martin Griffiths, issued a statement calling on the combatants to respect international law and enter into an immediate ceasefire. Israeli officials have repeatedly said they will not stop the fighting until all 240 hostages are released. Griffiths also wants both sides to support efforts to bring a continuous flow of aid convoys into Gaza.
“As the carnage in Gaza reaches new levels of horror every day, the world continues to watch in shock as hospitals come under fire, premature babies die and entire populations are deprived of the basic means of survival,” Griffiths said . “This cannot be allowed to continue.”
Three Jewish students filed an anti-Semitism lawsuit against New York University, accusing the school of civil rights violations that created a hostile educational environment where Jewish students are subjected to “pervasive acts of hatred, discrimination, harassment and intimidation.” The “latest and worst outbreak” has occurred since the start of the war in Gaza, the suit says, with numerous students and faculty “enthusiastically supporting” Hamas militants’ deadly rampage on Oct. 7 in Israel.
NYU spokesman John Beckman said in a statement that the school has worked to combat anti-Semitism and provide a peaceful environment for Jewish students. NYU “looks forward to setting the record straight, to challenging this lawsuit’s one-sided narrative,” he said.
The global humanitarian aid organization Mercy Corps says it is concerned for the safety of 70 staff and their families in Gaza, spokeswoman Milena Murr said. In an email to USA TODAY, Murr said staff are reporting an “increasingly desperate situation” that includes empty grocery stores, five-hour lines for bread that costs $30 for five slices, cooking on wood or coal because there is no is fuel. Internet and communications services could go down as soon as tomorrow, Murr said.
“Our colleagues go to great lengths to share their stories and the humanitarian disaster they are witnessing and experiencing,” Murr said.
Featured: Associated Press