Reuters, Jerusalem -During a search on Wednesday in the Gaza Strip’s Al Shifa hospital, Israeli troops discovered combat gear and weapons belonging to Hamas, according to chief Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari.
Simultaneously, the army produced a video purporting to display some of the equipment found in an unidentified building within the sprawling medical complex, including flak jackets, automatic weapons, grenades, and ammo.
The announcement was brushed aside by Hamas, which is fighting Israeli forces within Gaza, as “lies and cheap propaganda”.
Following Hamas’ unexpected cross-border attack on southern Israel on October 7, Israel invaded the Palestinian enclave last month and declared its intention to eliminate the Islamist organization.
After long-standing accusations that Hamas had established sizable command and control centers beneath hospitals as a means of evading airstrikes, the military shifted the emphasis of its operations to hospitals located throughout northern Gaza.
Overnight, Israeli forces broke into Al Shifa and have been searching particular areas of Gaza’s biggest hospital all day.
“These assets in Shifa hospital, just like in Rantissi, prove that hospitals have been used for military purposes for terror, in direct opposition to international law,” Hagari stated.
On Monday, Israeli soldiers stormed the Rantissi pediatric hospital, subsequently releasing a video purportedly showcasing Hamas-stored weaponry in the basement of the facility.
On Wednesday, the military gave no indication that they had located any tunnel entrances in Al Shifa. It has previously claimed that a system of tunnels beneath the hospital was constructed by Hamas.
“In a precise way and in accordance with intelligence… in order to gather more details and to discover more assets,” Hagari stated that the hunt would go on.
Israel, according to Hamas, is “trying to justify its genocidal crimes destroying the health sector in Gaza” and has been accused of inventing evidence.
Israeli forces had reached a designated area within the hospital, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht said earlier on CNN, emphasizing that “there wasn’t an all-out attack.”
He claimed that although there had been “no engagement whatsoever” after the Israeli soldiers entered the hospital, there had been an exchange of gunfire before they did so.
Previous suggestions from Israeli officials indicate that some of the 240 prisoners taken by Hamas terrorists in Israel on October 7 may be hidden beneath Gazan hospitals. Hecht clarified that the raid at Al Shifa had no intention of taking prisoners, nevertheless.
“We were focused on bringing intelligence and dismantling certain capabilities that we had intelligence on,” he stated.
Israel claims that 1,200 people perished in the October 7 Hamas onslaught on the country. Over 11,100 Palestinians have been confirmed killed in Israel’s military onslaught since then, according to Gaza health officials.
(Editing by James Mackenzie, Nick Macfie, Timothy Heritage, and Cynthia Osterman; reporting by Crispian Balmer and Emily Rose, with additional reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington)