The Israeli forces said on Sunday (Nov 19) that they uncovered a tunnel under Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital that stretched 55 metres beneath the complex where troops have been conducting a major operation. In a statement, the army said, “IDF (Israel Defense Forces) troops exposed a 55-meter-long terror tunnel 10 metres deep underneath the Shifa hospital complex.” In a separate post on X, the IDF shared a two-minute-long video that showed a blast door and a firing hole.
“The tunnel entrance contains various defence mechanisms, such as a blast-proof door and a firing hole, in an attempt by Hamas to block Israeli forces from entering,” the IDF said.
Here’s a look at the video:
OPERATIONAL UPDATE: IDF and ISA forces revealed a significant 55-meter-long terrorist tunnel, 10 meters underneath the Shifa Hospital complex during an intelligence-based operation.
The tunnel entrance contains various defense mechanisms, such as a blast-proof door and a firing… pic.twitter.com/tU4J6BD4ZG
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) November 19, 2023
“For weeks we’ve been telling the world about Hamas’ cynical use of the residents of Gaza and patients of Shifa Hospital as human shields,” the IDF further said.
The Al-Shifa hospital, which is the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip, has become a focal point of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. The Israeli military has claimed that Hamas is using the medical facility as a base. Hamas, and medical staff, have denied the accusations.
Al-Shifa a ‘death zone’: WHO
Earlier on Sunday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the Al-Shifa hospital has become a “death zone”, as it announced plans to evacuate the facility. The WHO, however, warned that nearby facilities were already overstretched and urged an immediate ceasefire given the “extreme suffering of the people of Gaza”.
On Saturday, hundreds of people fled the hospital on foot on orders from the Israeli army, according to the facility’s director, a report by the news agency AFP said. Columns of sick and injured — some of them amputees — were seen leaving with displaced people, doctors, and nurses, as loud explosions were heard around the complex.
Meanwhile, the United Nations said that Palestinian medics evacuated 31 premature babies from the hospital, adding preparations were underway for them to enter Egypt. They were taken to a hospital in the southern Gaza city of Rafah where they were “receiving urgent care in the neonatal intensive care unit, the UN added.
(With inputs from agencies)