Israel Defense Forces units operating in the Shifa Hospital area in Gaza City found weapons, military technology and intelligence information at the compound, the Israeli military stated on Wednesday.
An operational command center, weapons and technological assets were found in the MRI building of the hospital, and the material is undergoing Israeli intelligence analysis, according to Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the IDF spokesman.
Israeli forces continue to scan the hospital looking for more evidence, Hagari said. Hamas uniforms thrown on the hospital floor likely point to terror operatives who sought to escape by posing as civilians, he added.
‘Precise and targeted operation’
The IDF has sent multiple evacuation warnings to hospital management and has provided baby food and medical equipment, including incubators, Hagari said.
Shifa, Rantisi and other Gazan hospitals were “all used as terror bases by Hamas,” Hagari said, leaving proof that Hamas acted in the hospitals in violation of international law.
“IDF troops are continuing the precise and targeted operation against Hamas in the Shifa Hospital complex, in which the troops are conducting searches for Hamas terrorist infrastructure and assets,” the military said.
Entering the hospital complex, Israeli soldiers “engaged with a number of terrorists and killed them,” the IDF added. “During searches in one of the departments of the hospital, the troops located a room with technological assets, along with military and combat equipment used by the Hamas terrorist organization.”
Soldiers found “an operational command center and technological assets belonging to Hamas” in another hospital department, “indicating that the terrorist organization uses the hospital for terrorist purposes,” the military added.
On Tuesday night, the IDF began what it called a targeted operation, based on intelligence, in a specified area of the Shifa Hospital complex. IDF forces arrived with medical staff and Arabic-speaking personnel and sought to avoid harming Gazan civilians, who were used as human shields at the facility, the military said.
As members of the Israeli military entered, four terrorists opened fire. It’s not yet clear if the four emerged from the hospital or from adjacent streets.
IDF tanks delivered medical equipment, including incubators, and other supplies to the hospital front gate on Tuesday night.
Soldiers of the 14th Reserve Brigade, in cooperation with soldiers of the Armored and Combat Engineering Corps, secured Hamas’s Falestin outpost in the northern Gaza Strip in recent days. Soldiers directed aircraft and artillery strikes until the outpost was secured.
Hamas used the outpost as a training base, where terrorists prepared to attack Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers, according to the military. It also doubled as a launchpad for terrorist activities. At the outpost, the military uncovered terror tunnels, explosives and mines.
“During the brigade’s activity, dozens of terrorists were eliminated and dozens of anti-tank and mortar launch posts, observation posts and significant control infrastructure were destroyed,” the IDF said.
‘Hamas only understands force’
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said earlier on Wednesday that Israel’s objective to dismantle Hamas includes eliminating the terror organization’s entire chain of command, bunkers, overground facilities, underground facilities and commanders, and as many terrorists as possible.
The IDF is also conducting every operation it can to secure the rescue of hostages, whether via ground operation or other means.
“Only through the aerial, and, of course, ground effort, together with the pressure applied on them, does the issue of hostages and the missing move forward,” Gallant said. “This is why I pressed all along for the maneuver.”
“First of all, because it achieves the war’s goal, and second of all, Hamas only understands force,” he continued. “If you do not act with force they do not understand. When you start to suddenly act with power, with everything you have to give them, and when you are willing to give them a short period of quiet, they are willing to pay for it. That’s the entire logic of this thing.”
“In other words,” he added, “you achieve both goals simultaneously.”
Gallant said Israel should repeat what it did in Gaza City in stages across the Gaza Strip.
“In the end, we cannot live with this threat next to us,” he said. “In the Gaza Strip, there will be no threat. There will be no military threat to the State of Israel. Hamas will cease to function as a military-sovereign body with capabilities and will have the full ability to act when we want if a threat emerges.”
Fulfilling the mission
Gallant told Brett McGurk, deputy assistant to the US president and coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, on Wednesday that Israel “will not stop its operations in Gaza until our troops fulfill their missions—destroying Hamas and returning our hostages home to their families.”
McGurk and Barbara Leaf, US assistant secretary for Near East affairs, departed from Washington on Nov. 13 for a trip to “Belgium, Israel, the West Bank, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan,” per Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the National Security Council of the White House.
In Israel, McGurk planned to “discuss Israel’s security needs, the imperative of protecting civilians in the course of military operations, as well as ongoing efforts to secure the release of hostages, and the need to rein in violent extremist settlers in the West Bank,” per the White House. And in the “West Bank,” McGurk planned to “discuss the Biden administration’s support for the Palestinian Authority and its essential role as the representative of the Palestinian people, as well as the need for reforms to promote long-term stability in both the West Bank and Gaza, and the aspirations of Palestinians to live with equal measures of freedom, security and dignity in a state of their own.”
In a meeting at the Israeli Defense Ministry Headquarters in Tel Aviv, Gallant began by expressing his appreciation to the Biden administration for its ongoing support and deep partnership on all levels, according to an Israeli readout of the meeting.
Gallant and McGurk discussed the complexity of preparations in light of Hamas’s entrenchment within urban environments and the terror organization’s cynical use of civilian institutions, including multiple hospitals.
The Israeli minister discussed the hostage situation at length, sharing intelligence and details on the statuses of those held captive by Hamas, as well as the efforts to return them home.
The parties also discussed humanitarian efforts and overcoming challenges in facilitating humanitarian aid to the civilian population, per the Israeli prime minister’s office. The two also discussed the role of the international community in enabling the increase in the delivery of urgent supplies.
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