February 14, 2024 | Flash Brief

Another Gaza Hospital Evacuated as New York Times Confirms Hamas Use of Al-Shifa

February 14, 2024 | Flash Brief

Another Gaza Hospital Evacuated as New York Times Confirms Hamas Use of Al-Shifa

Latest Developments

Palestinians in Gaza are evacuating a major medical complex after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued evacuation orders on February 13. The IDF advised civilians sheltering at Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis to move to designated humanitarian zones, citing evidence that Hamas “continues to conduct military activities” at the hospital and “that the place was used to hold hostages.”

For years, Hamas has used hospitals as cover for terrorist activity. The New York Times confirmed on February 12 that Hamas used Gaza’s largest medical facility, Al-Shifa Hospital, for military purposes. “Evidence examined by the New York Times suggests that Hamas used the hospital for cover, stored weapons inside it and maintained a hardened tunnel beneath the complex that was supplied with water, power and air-conditioning.” The Times said it reviewed “classified Israeli intelligence documents” showing that the tunnel underneath Al-Shifa “is at least 700 feet long” and “extends beyond the hospital and likely connects to Hamas’s larger underground network.”

Expert Analysis

“Hamas has demonstrated that it will leverage civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and UNRWA facilities, for its benefit. Evacuating civilians to a safer area before removing Hamas from the hospital grounds is the right thing to do. Moreover, valuable evidence at the hospital may lead to the rescue of more hostages in the near future.” —  Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

“It has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hamas has systematically used hospitals and other civilian infrastructure as cover for its military activity. This aspect of the conflict has been downplayed or ignored by the international media, delivering a strategic advantage to Hamas in the war of narratives. In this case, The New York Times seems to correct the record, but the report is too little, too late. The damage to Israel has been done.” —  Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

Hamas’s Use of Hospitals

Hamas regularly uses civilian areas, including hospitals, to store and launch rockets and spread propaganda. In violation of international law, Hamas also uses hospitals to hide command centers and shield operatives.

Israeli forces uncovered a Hamas bunker underneath Al-Shifa that the Iran-backed terrorist group had been using for years as a base of military operations. In 2007, a doctor at Al-Shifa said the hospital staff were “suffering from fear and terror, particularly of the Hamas fighters, who are in every corner of the hospital.”  By 2014, the Al-Shifa had become a “de-facto” command center for Hamas. In 2014, the IDF said that Hamas had also turned Al-Wafa Hospital into a command center, rocket-launching site, and observation post. In November 2023, the IDF released footage of weapons and explosives stored at Rantisi Children’s Hospital.

U.S. and EU Corroborate Israeli Claims

American intelligence and the European Union have backed Israeli claims about Hamas’s use of hospitals. CNN reported on November 13 that “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.” The New York Times also noted that U.S. intelligence indicated Hamas used hospitals to hold “at least a few hostages.” On November 12, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said that the bloc “condemns the use of hospitals and civilians as human shields by Hamas.”  

10 Things to Know About Hamas and Hospitals,” FDD Insight

Israel: Hamas Terrorists Base Operations from Southern Gaza Hospitals,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas Took Hostages to Al-Shifa Hospital,” FDD Flash Brief

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


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