Words by Liz Little, Multimedia Producer
The Israel Defence Force (IDF) say they have found a Hamas tunnel leading to a children’s hospital in Gaza City – where they allege hostages and armoury have been held since the October 7 massacre.
In footage posted by IDF on Monday, their spokesperson Daniel Hagari said it was “clear evidence” the terror organisation had been operating from the hospital basement.
The implications of such a discovery would be instrumental in the Israel-Hamas war.
Israel has faced global condemnation for their attacks on hospitals and civilians in Gaza. Under international law, hospitals are given special protections during war – they must not be targeted.
But, hospitals lose those protections if combatants use them to hide fighters or store weapons, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Since posting, the IDF has been faced with various questions over the validity of its claims, such as the video being described as “raw footage” – despite having several edits and blur effects added.
ITV News has analysed the video and posed these questions to the IDF – who are yet to respond.
Does the tunnel lead to the hospital?
Daniel Hagari begins the video by claiming IDF discovered a tunnel entrance close to the home of one of the senior terrorists in charge of the raids into Israel.
He says Israel were carrying out investigations in the area after coming under fire by Hamas militants.
The location, he says, is 200 yards from Rantissi Hospital, a paediatric hospital with a speciality in treating cancer patients.
The IDF spokesperson says a robot was sent down the 20-meter drop to the tunnel, where it discovered a bulletproof door.
He says this is “clear evidence the hospital direction is connected” – however does not show any footage proving this claim.
When posting the video to social media, it was accompanied by a caption saying it showed Hagari “walk through one of one of Hamas' subterranean terrorist tunnels - only to exit in Gaza's Rantisi hospital on the other side”.
However, Hagari does not travel through the tunnel in the footage posted.
In a separate interview with CNN embedded journalists, it shows that he walked to the hospital and entered the basement through a huge hole in the wall, created by Israeli military attacks.
IDF have not been able to substantiate their claim of the tunnel being linked to the hospital – in their CNN interview Hagari also admitted the IDF were “investigating a link”.
Alleged evidence of Hamas operations including a motorbike
Without travelling through the tunnel, Hagari shows the basement of the hospital, where he says IDF discovered “operational gear” used by Hamas. It includes explosive vests, bombs, automatic rifles, and rocket grenades.
He says hostages were being held in the basement – “proven” by a makeshift bathroom and kitchen.
Hamas has repeatedly denied that its fighters hide under hospitals, as have Gazan health officials and hospital directors.
Hagari then shows a motorbike which he claims was used in the October 7 attack, and to transport hostages back to the hospital.
He also shows baby nappies and a small bottle, alongside a woman’s clothing on a chair with a small rope around it – which he says proves Hamas had been keeping hostages here. DNA testing is still ongoing.
Mohammed Zarqout, who has responsibility for all of Gaza’s hospitals, has refuted the video’s claims, saying the hospital basement had been used as a shelter for women and children, as well as being the location of the pharmacy and some of the hospital’s administrative offices before rainwater made it “impossible” to use.
Zarqout also told CNN that medical staff had been forced to leave the hospital by Israeli soldiers, and had been unable to take all the patients with them when they left.
Another separate video posted on social media shows what's claimed to be IDF uncovering Hamas infrastructure in the Rantisi hospital.
Again - there is no footage of the alleged tunnel. But this video shows a lot more signs of the basement being used - military equipment surrounded by mess and rubble, and piles of cash.
It poses the question: if this space was being used for hostages why did Hagari not show it?
'A terrorist list'
What appears to be central to Hagari’s video evidence of Hamas hospital operations is what he claims is a list of names and dates stuck to the basement wall.
He says this documents Hamas terrorists’ shifts in guarding Israeli hostages. This is in fact days of the week, written in Arabic.
ITV News has requested IDF clarify what was meant by his statement.
Hagari said forensic experts were examining the scenes, and all of what he claims as evidence was based on IDF intelligence.
However, IDF is still yet to support these claims beyond the video.
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