November 15, 2023 | Flash Brief

Hidden Hamas Headquarters at Gaza Hospital Reached by Israeli Forces 

November 15, 2023 | Flash Brief

Hidden Hamas Headquarters at Gaza Hospital Reached by Israeli Forces 

Latest Developments 

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) entered Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on November 15, trading fire with Palestinian terrorists in the first stage of an operation to uncover Hamas command centers at the site. The breach on the western side of the Shifa compound followed its encirclement by the IDF and calls on patients and Palestinian civilians holed up there to evacuate. Some remained, however, complicating Israel’s efforts. 

At least five Palestinians were killed at Shifa’s gates as they fired at the IDF. The Israeli forces included Arabic interpreters and medical experts, bringing with them incubators and baby food for the hospital’s neonatal and pediatric wards. Troops went room to room, conducting initial searches and interrogations, utilizing special training they had received for operations within the hospital. There were no immediate reports of any IDF casualties. 

Expert Analysis 

“This Gaza war is a great reckoning unleashed by Israel in response to the horrors unleashed on it by Hamas after years of ceaseless hostilities. And the move into Shifa is a critical part of the great reckoning. The sooner the Israelis reveal to the world the Hamas terrorist assets hidden there, the sooner they will unmask the lethal cynicism that has always guided the Palestinian terrorist group, its regional backers, and its patsies in the West. But of course, the IDF will have more immediate priorities than PR: getting the job done with as few military and Palestinian civilian casualties as possible.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO 

“Hamas’s use of hospitals in Gaza is one of its many crimes. The terrorist group has embedded itself within civilian areas to use them as human shields and to stockpile weapons for attacks. The horrific attack on Israel on October 7 is an example of how Hamas was able to use Gaza’s densely populated areas to hide and then commit atrocities. Israel’s operation in Shifa hospital is a necessary part of a larger operation to remove Hamas terrorist infrastructure from Gaza.” — Seth J. Frantzman, FDD Adjunct Fellow 

Hamas Exploits Hospitals for Terrorism 

Israeli forces found an unspecified amount of weaponry in the hospital as well as what the IDF called “concrete evidence that Hamas terrorists used the Shifa hospital as a terror headquarters.” With its 1,200 beds, Shifa is the Gaza Strip’s biggest hospital. Israel has warned for years that Hamas leaders were exploiting its protected status by digging their main bunker and tunnel network below ground. There has been speculation in Israel that some of the 240 people taken hostage during Hamas’s October 7 cross-border rampage are being kept under Shifa.  

The IDF also found weapons on November 13 in the basement of Rantisi hospital, which is north of Gaza City. 

U.S., EU Back Israel’s Claims 

American intelligence and the European Union back Israel’s claims. “A U.S. official with knowledge of American intelligence says Hamas has a command node under the Al-Shifa hospital, uses fuel intended for it and its fighters regularly cluster in and around Gaza’s largest hospital,” CNN reported on November 13. The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said on November 12 that the bloc “condemns the use of hospitals and civilians as human shields by Hamas.”  

Battles With Terrorists Continue in Gaza 

The IDF killed terrorists near al-Shifa Hospital prior to entering the compound, the IDF said on November 15. In a separate operation, Israeli ground forces found a Hamas training camp that included terror tunnels and weapons. In another part of Gaza, an IDF drone attacked an anti-tank missile launching post. An Israeli drone “monitored the terrorists, and struck two of them” at the post, the IDF said.  

Hamas Uses Gaza Hospital as Headquarters,” FDD Flash Brief 

What do we know about hospitals in north Gaza? – explainer,” by Seth J. Frantzman 

Israel Offers Incubators for Gaza’s Shifa Hospital,” FDD Flash Brief 


Israel Israel at War