The Israeli military shared video and photographs on Monday showing what it said were weapons stored by Hamas in the basement of a children’s hospital in Gaza where it also said hostages appear to have been held.
Military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said troops had found a command center with an armory of weapons including grenades, suicide vests and other explosives stored by Hamas fighters in the basement of Rantissi Hospital, a pediatric hospital with a specialty in treating cancer patients.
“And we also found signs that indicate that Hamas held hostages here,” he told a televised briefing. “This is currently under our investigation. But we also have intelligence that verifies it.”
He showed footage of what appeared to be rudimentary living quarters, including a small kitchen, as well as a nearby tunnel shaft which he said led to the house of a senior Hamas naval commander.
“Hamas took all this area under its control and conducted its war against Israelis from this hospital,” he said.
In addition, troops found a motorcycle with gunshot marks which he said appeared to have been used to bring hostages to Gaza after the surprise attack on Oct. 7 when Hamas gunmen stormed into southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people and seizing around 240 captives, according to Israeli authorities.
In retaliation, Israel has launched an intense bombardment of the Gaza Strip and followed up with a ground operation that has seen troops push deep into the enclave. More than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza, according to Palestinian health officials.
On Monday, Israeli tanks were positioned outside the gates of Al-Shifa hospital, the main hospital in Gaza where hundreds of patients were still waiting to be evacuated.
As the invasion has proceeded, Israel has accused Hamas of using hospitals and other civilian infrastructure to hide command centers and weapons positions and of using civilians and hospital patients as human shields.
Hamas and hospital authorities in Gaza have denied that health facilities have been used in this way. There was no immediate comment from Hamas on the latest Israeli statements.
The United Nations has called for a halt to attacks on healthcare in Gaza. Israel says it is allowing the evacuation of patients and civilians.