What the latest IDF footage from al Shifa hospital tells us about Hamas’ alleged presence there


Israeli troops are continuing their operation at Gaza’s biggest hospital, al Shifa, which has been a primary target of the ground assault.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) entered al Shifa on Wednesday as it believes Hamas’ headquarters are located underneath the hospital within a complex network of tunnels and operational offices.

The Palestinian Islamist group and doctors at al Shifa deny it is being used by Hamas.

Sky News has located three videos taken in two different areas inside the al Shifa complex and released by the IDF, and analysed some of the evidence found.

Al Shifa hospital. Pic: Maxar Technologies

Alleged tunnel shaft

The Israeli army claims it has found the entrance to a Hamas tunnel shaft in its latest video posted on Friday.

It’s filmed in the eastern edge of the hospital – as the side of the surgery building is seen in the background of the video.

The hole highlighted in the footage appears to be a few metres deep, littered with and surrounded by concrete, wood, rubble and sand.

Twisted metal can be seen around the opening of the hole. In part of the footage, a bulldozer can be seen in the background.

The lower part of the alleged tunnel appears to have a smooth surface, but it offers only a limited view, so it is difficult to be certain what purpose it might serve.

From the position and length of the shadow, Sky News estimates the footage above was taken between 12pm and 2pm local time on Thursday.

But beyond that it is not possible to gauge how deep it goes. The army has not released further footage at al Shifa relating to alleged tunnels.

Weapons ‘found’ in truck

The IDF posted another video inside al Shifa on Thursday and said it found a white vehicle in the complex which it claims contained dozens of weapons.

Ammunition, knives, RPGs, bulletproof vests and handcuffs are among the objects laid out on blankets. Plate carriers are used to carry bulletproof plates and other equipment, and rifle magazines store bullets used in the firearm.

Pic: IDF
Pic: IDF

While the images and footage do not prove who the weapons belong to, military analyst Sean Bell says they are among the types of weapons used by Hamas.

He said: “As they are a militia group, they use small arms like AK-47s and hand grenades. An AK-47 is widely used and is the sort of the weapon of choice for a lot of militia groups.”

The footage was taken metres away from the alleged tunnel, as you can also see the surgery building in the background.

This location is not in an area previously highlighted by the IDF where it believes Hamas’ headquarters and depots are underground as seen in the map below.

Al Shifa hospital. Pic: Maxar Technologies

A doctor at al Shifa, Ahmed El Mokhallalati, said it is a “totally terrifying situation” at the hospital, adding that Israeli forces had “found nothing”. The hospital is packed with patients and displaced people and is struggling to maintain operations.

The latest series of videos from al Shifa follow another released by the IDF on Wednesday, which showed Israeli forces walking through the hospital’s MRI clinic behind the emergency department.

What has the IDF said about al Shifa?

It is known that Hamas has a vast network of underground tunnels within the Gaza Strip. However, the group denies Israeli claims that it uses the hospital as a shield for tunnels and operational centres.

Israeli military officials say their operation inside the hospital is based on their understanding of a “well-hidden terrorist infrastructure” in the complex.

The IDF has previously said the entrance to Hamas’ underground HQ consists of a “number of tunnels shafts adjacent to the hospital”, adding that “additional entrances are located in various departments of the hospital, including the admissions department”, in a press release on 27 October.

Screenshot of an IDF video of illustration of underneath al-Shifa
A screenshot of an IDF video of an illustration of the type of tunnel network it believes is underneath al Shifa

It also released a video featuring an illustration of the type of infrastructure it believes exists underneath the hospital as seen in the screenshot above.

In a news conference, IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the force would “not share the true material that we have in our hands”.

It has said Hamas has stored weapons and ammunition and is holding hostages in a network of tunnels under hospitals like al Shifa, using patients and people taking shelter there as human shields.

Hamas has denied operating out of medical facilities.

The Data and Forensics team is a multi-skilled unit dedicated to providing transparent journalism from Sky News. We gather, analyse and visualise data to tell data-driven stories. We combine traditional reporting skills with advanced analysis of satellite images, social media and other open source information. Through multimedia storytelling we aim to better explain the world while also showing how our journalism is done.

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