November 17, 2023 | Flash Brief

Remains of Two Israeli Hostages Recovered from Near Shifa Hospital

November 17, 2023 | Flash Brief

Remains of Two Israeli Hostages Recovered from Near Shifa Hospital

Latest Developments

Israel announced on November 17 that it has identified and repatriated the bodies of two Israelis kidnapped by Hamas during its surprise attack last month. Israeli forces found the bodies of 19-year-old Cpl. Noa Marciano and 65-year-old Yehudit Weiss near the al-Shifa Hospital complex, where the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has conducted military operations over the past several days. According to Israel, Hamas uses the hospital and facilities buried underneath as a command center, a finding consistent with U.S. intelligence.

The IDF progressed slowly through the hospital campus on November 15 and 16 to avoid civilian casualties, describing it as a “precise and targeted” mission. Despite calls by the IDF for the evacuation of hospitals prior to its forces entering Gaza, thousands of civilians — including patients and medical staff — remain at al-Shifa. IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the operation’s intent is for “no harm is caused to the civilians being used by Hamas as human shields.”

Expert Analysis

“The contrast between Israel’s efforts to save lives in Shifa hospital and Hamas’s efforts to intentionally put those lives at risk reminds us both of the lawfulness of Israel’s conduct and the imperative of its mission to destroy Hamas.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“The IDF has found weapons and other evidence of Hamas terrorists operating out of the Shifa compound as well as the remains of two hostages in the area. Gaza’s biggest hospital, Shifa is an expansive structure, and it will take the IDF time to fully inspect the property. To complicate matters, there are still patients and medical staff in the hospital that the IDF has committed not to harm.” Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

Meticulous Progress Through Hospital Complex

On November 15, Israeli forces entered the Shifa hospital complex on its western side, trading fire with terrorists and killing at least five. The IDF said it sent in specially trained Arabic interpreters and medical experts who brought incubators and baby food for the hospital’s neonatal and pediatric wards.

In a video from the first day of the operation, Israeli personnel showcased a stash of Hamas weapons discovered in an MRI unit at the hospital. Hagari later said Israeli forces had also uncovered a Hamas tunnel shaft underneath the hospital complex, as well as a vehicle on hospital grounds packed with a large number of weapons.

Washington Concurs on Hamas Role at Shifa

 “We have information that confirms that Hamas is using that particular hospital for a command-and-control mode,” and probably to store weapons, said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on November 14. “That is a war crime.” Kirby said the U.S. finding “comes from a variety of intelligence methods — of our own,” not from information shared by Israeli agencies.

On November 13, Hagari visited Rantisi Hospital, a medical center for children north of Gaza City, where Israeli forces found weapons, terror tunnels, and evidence that Hamas held hostages there. The IDF also uncovered a stash of weapons at al-Quds Hospital on November 16.

Shifa hospital the focus of IDF ground operations in Gaza,” by Seth Frantzman

Hidden Hamas Headquarters at Gaza Hospital Reached by Israeli Forces,” FDD Flash Brief

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


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