Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Israeli military was tightening its grip on the Gaza Strip’s largest hospital on Wednesday after launching a nighttime operation to take control of the complex. Inside, soldiers were conducting searches and interrogations, citing the discovery of rifles, ammunition, body armor, and other military equipment in a radiology building as evidence.

A video filmed at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City showed a military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, displaying about 10 guns, ammunition, protective vests, and Hamas military uniforms. He claimed these items were hidden behind M.R.I. machines, in storage units, and behind a lead-lined door, but their authenticity could not be confirmed.

Hamas denied using the hospital for military purposes and dismissed the Israeli claims as fabricated. They stated that the capture of Al-Shifa would impact public opinion on the invasion.

The Israeli military had seized control of the compound, while Palestinian officials, UN agencies, and regional leaders condemned the operation for risking the lives of vulnerable Gazans.

The hospital has been at the center of Israel’s efforts to gain control of Gaza for over a month. Israeli military officials maintain that Hamas had established a military command center at the hospital using patients and staff as human shields.

The seizure of Al-Shifa Hospital and the evidence of Hamas’s military presence could affect international sentiment about the invasion and ongoing hostage negotiations with Hamas.

The Israeli military invaded Gaza following a series of Hamas-led attacks, resulting in a significant number of casualties on both sides.

For years, Israel has claimed that Hamas built a military command center beneath the hospital, using it to shield their operations. However, the Palestinians and hospital leadership refute these claims.

The ongoing communication disruption in Gaza City has limited the flow of information about the situation at the hospital. Palestinian officials, including the head of the media office, have accused the Israeli soldiers of mistreating patients and forcefully removing individuals from the hospital complex.

Due to the communications disruption, The New York Times was unable to reach hospital administrators for comment.

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