Israel-Gaza conflict: In a recent development, Israel has asserted that its military operation in Gaza uncovered a tunnel shaft utilised by Hamas militants at Al Shifa hospital. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went further to state that Israeli forces discovered a command center beneath the hospital, accompanied by a cache of bombs and weapons. Despite international criticism, President Joe Biden has defended Israel's actions, reaffirming support for the US ally.
- Tunnel Discovery at Al Shifa Hospital: Israel claims that its soldiers have identified a tunnel shaft employed by Hamas militants at Gaza's Al Shifa hospital.
- Command Center Uncovered: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israeli forces discovered a command center beneath Al Shifa hospital, accompanied by the presence of bombs and weapons.
- International Support from President Biden: President Joe Biden has defended Israel's military operation at Gaza's largest hospital, expressing solidarity with the US ally despite facing criticism on the international stage.
- Hamas' Denial: In response to these claims, Hamas issued a statement denying the allegations. According to Hamas, the assertions made by the Pentagon and US State Department regarding the group's use of Al Shifa for military purposes are deemed a "blatantly false narrative."
- Discrediting Occupation Army Spokesman: Hamas characterised the claims as a repetition of a "blatantly false narrative," highlighting what they describe as weak and ridiculous performances by the occupation army spokesman.
This development adds complexity to the already tense situation in the region, with conflicting narratives from Israel and Hamas. The international community continues to closely monitor and respond to the evolving situation.
Key updates on Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza:
- Tunnel Discovery at Al Shifa Hospital: The Israeli Army released a video suggesting a tunnel entrance within the grounds of Al Shifa, Gaza's largest hospital. The unverified video displayed a deep hole amidst rubble, indicating excavation, with a bulldozer visible in the backdrop. Israeli forces reported finding a vehicle containing a significant cache of weapons at the hospital premises.
- Netanyahu's Statements: Prime Minister Netanyahu, in an interview on CBS Evening News, mentioned the evacuation of "terrorist chieftains and terrorists" from the hospital as Israeli military approached. He emphasized the cautious approach taken by Israel to neutralize the hospital's use as a command center for terrorists while attempting to prevent Hamas from exploiting it as a safe zone.
- Humanitarian Concerns: The United Nations expressed concern over the blockage of aid delivery to Palestinians via the Rafah crossing with Egypt. Additionally, telecom companies in Gaza reported a complete network outage due to the depletion of energy sources, impeding communication and coordination of humanitarian aid convoys by UNRWA.
- Health Ministry's Alarming Report: Gaza's health ministry spokesperson highlighted the peril faced by thousands of vulnerable individuals, including women, children, and the sick, as Israeli raids persisted at Al Shifa for a third consecutive night. Concerns about civilian casualties and the well-being of those seeking refuge in the hospital compound were raised.
- Biden's Support for Israel: President Biden defended Israel's military operation at Al Shifa, labeling Hamas' use of the hospital for military operations as a "war crime." He acknowledged Israel's efforts to minimize civilian casualties while targeting Hamas' command centers housed within the hospital.
- Humanitarian Toll: Palestinian civilians have borne the brunt of the conflict, with weeks of Israeli military retaliation following an October 7 attack by Hamas. Conflicting casualty figures indicate a significant toll, with Gaza health authorities, recognised by the UN, reporting over 11,500 confirmed deaths, including a substantial number of children.
- Hostage Crisis Allegations: Israeli officials claimed that some of the 240 hostages taken during the October 7 incident were held within the hospital complex. Troops recovered the body of a female hostage near Al Shifa, further escalating tensions in the already volatile situation.
- With inputs from agencies