The Israeli army says it has discovered a tunnel shaft under the besieged al-Shifa hospital in northern Gaza.
In a statement on Sunday, the army said it had found a 55-meter-long and 10-meter-deep tunnel under the largest medical facility in Gaza, which has been under siege by Israeli troops for several days.
The army posted a video on its official Telegram channel showing a soldier descending into the tunnel. The material was recorded with two separate cameras on November 17, he added.
The videos show stairs leading to an arched concrete passageway ending in what appears to be a door. The army says it is the entrance to a tunnel shaft with “an explosion-proof door and a firing port.”
According to the statement, the tunnel was found “on hospital grounds, under a shed, next to a vehicle containing numerous weapons, including RPGs, explosives and Kalashnikov rifles.”
Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari told reporters that the entrance was exposed when a military bulldozer toppled the outer wall of the hospital complex and found a fortified shaft with a spiral staircase leading to a depth of 10 meters.
“It’s a huge object, made of metal [spiral] up the stairs, then runs 55 meters… and reaches the blast door,” Hagari said, pointing out that soldiers had not yet tried to open the door for fear of being booby-trapped.
Behind the door, intelligence suggested either the tunnel would split or a “large command and control room” would be created, he added, saying soldiers would continue searching the area because there may be access shafts leading from nearby homes.
Israel has made al-Shifa hospital the centerpiece of its operations since the army entered it on Wednesday, saying it houses a Hamas command center – a claim Hamas and staff working at the hospital deny.
“It’s probably one of dozens, maybe even hundreds of tunnels. We all know there are tunnels in Gaza,” said Marwan Bishara, senior political analyst at Al Jazeera.
“The problem is not finding the tunnel. The problem is Israel’s excuse – and that of their supporters in London and Washington – that there was a “city under the city.”
Israeli occupation forces stormed the surgical ward of Al Shifa Hospital today, remaining there for over 5 hours.
Medical staff and patients were subjected to unwarranted investigations that resulted in humiliation. One patient was arrested. I’m calling urgently @AND UN and…
– Ahmed El Mokhallalati (@AMokhallalati) November 19, 2023
On Sunday, the Israeli army also announced that one soldier was executed at al-Shifa Hospital and two foreigners were detained at al-Shifa Hospital. The army is searching for approximately 240 people who were abducted by Hamas to Gaza following the October 7 cross-border attack.
One of the hostages was 19-year-old Israeli army conscript Noa Marciano, whose body was found last week near Al-Shifa. Hamas said she was killed in an Israeli airstrike and released a video showing her body, unmarked except for a head wound.
The Israeli military said a forensic examination showed she suffered non-life-threatening injuries from the impact.
“According to intelligence information – solid intelligence information – Hamas terrorists took Noa inside the walls of Shifa Hospital. There she was murdered by a Hamas terrorist,” Hagari said, without going into details.
During his televised briefing, Hagari said Hamas attackers also brought a Nepalese and a Thai to al-Shifa, among the foreign workers detained in the Oct. 7 raid. He did not provide the names of the two hostages.
Hamas did not immediately comment on Hagari’s statement. It was previously reported to have taken some hostages to hospitals for treatment.
Gaza’s health ministry said at least 13,000 Palestinians, including 5,500 children, have died in Gaza since Israel launched its air and ground attack.
The siege of al-Shifa hospital, the centerpiece of the six-week “genocide,” sparked international outrage, with the World Health Organization describing the hospital as a “death zone” when its team visited the hospital on Saturday.
More than 7,000 people, including critically ill patients and newborns fighting for their lives, were sheltered in Al-Shifa before those who were able to move were driven out this weekend.
On Sunday, 31 premature babies were evacuated and taken to European and Nasser hospitals in the southern Gaza Strip.
According to reports from Al-Shifa medical staff, some patients remain in hospital and were questioned earlier on Sunday.