Israeli combat engineers have destroyed a significant tunnel route below Gaza’s largest hospital, the Israel Defense Forces said on January 3 evening.
In recent weeks, the fighters of the Yalam unit, under the command of the combat team of the 7th brigade in the 36th division and with the cooperation of special forces, destroyed the tunnel network underneath the Shifa Hospital.
The tunnel was 250 meters long and linked the hospital to nearby Hamas terror infrastructure and other shafts, the IDF said. The military stressed that the tunnel’s destruction did not damage the hospital.
“These tunnels allow the terrorist organisations to conduct their activities freely and in disguise underground,” the IDF said.
Shifa Hospital, located in the North Rimal neighbourhood and boasting 570 beds, is Gaza’s largest medical centre, serving the medical needs of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. It was originally built by British authorities in 1946. In the 1980s, Israel renovated and expanded Shifa as part of an initiative to improve Gaza’s living conditions.
As far back as 2009, the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) reported during the Gaza war of that year that Hamas operatives were hiding in the hospital and that the basement had become Hamas’s headquarters.
As the Tazpit Press Service reported, in addition to being used to hide Hamas leaders and hostages, the terror group is known to have launched rockets, tortured suspected collaborators and hoarded a half-million litres of fuel in the hospital compound.
In November, the Shin Bet released footage of Palestinians confirming to Shin Bet interrogators how terrorists hid inside hospitals and dressed as medical personnel.
At least 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on October 7. The number of men, women, children, soldiers and foreigners held captive in Gaza by Hamas is now believed to be 129. Other people remain unaccounted for as Israeli authorities continue to identify bodies and search for human remains.
(with inputs from ANI)