The IDF and Shin Bet released on Saturday afternoon footage from investigations of two terrorists who infiltrated Israel on October 7 and provided further evidence of Hamas operatives using hospitals in the Gaza Strip to shield themselves from IDF strikes.
During his interrogation, Omar Abu Rusha, a member of Hamas's elite Nukhba force, was asked about the connection between hospitals in Gaza and the Palestinian enclave's vast system of subterranean tunnels, to which he responded, “most of them are hidden in the hospitals. (At) Shifa for example (the hospital), there are underground levels… Shifa is not small, it is a big place that can be used to hide things."
Abu Rusha is then asked by the interrogator about why Hamas was using medical institutions, such as hospitals and clinics, for protection, to which he answered, “you won’t strike them.”
He explains that Hamas is taking advantage of the fact that Israel won’t strike hospitals to smuggle “explosives, weapons, food, medical equipment” for their operatives. “I told you, Shifa is a safe place, it will not be struck. To them it is safe, that’s what we know.”
Abu Rusha also expressed criticism of Hamas when asked about the fuel situation in Gaza. "First, they take care of their own cars and jeeps and then distribute them to the people. They refuel from full containers for themselves," he said.
When questioned if Gazans have freedom of movement, he responded, "No. You can't go to Egypt without their (Hamas) permission."
Hassan Zaarab told his interrogator that his a medic for the military wing of the organization, and that during the October 7 attack, he operated in Kibbutz Sufa near the Gaza border.
He was then asked about Hamas’s use of hospitals, and replied that “the Shifa hospital, they’re using it, they’re hiding there.”
IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari presented on Friday further evidence of Hamas’s use of medical institutions to conceal its terrorist activity. In a special briefing for international media, Hagari presented intelligence indicating that the central command of Hamas is located beneath the Shifa Hospital. This includes several areas, among them storage spaces for weapons, ammunition, and medical equipment. "The hospital has 1,500 beds and about 4,000 staff members who act as a human shield for Hamas leaders," he said.
Rear Admiral Hagari pointed out that the underground facilities are used by Hamas leaders to direct their operations. There is a tunnel that leads to the hospital, allowing entry to the Hamas command without passing through the hospital itself.
Additionally, within the hospital, there is a Hamas internal security control center, which is heavily staffed with armed personnel on a regular and emergency basis. From this location, both terrorist operations are directed and rocket fire is coordinated, along with the direction of forces.
“During a special briefing, the IDF spokesperson revealed significant information, indicating that Hamas routinely and especially in emergencies uses humanitarian infrastructures in the Gaza Strip for its terrorist activities. They exploit this humanitarian cover to protect their militants and the leaders of the terrorist organization," read the statement released Friday.
"Patients and staff act as human shields for Hamas leaders. The hospital's energy infrastructure, which is supposed to serve its patients, simultaneously supports the organization's underground terror infrastructure and its leaders."
In a recording that was revealed during the briefing, a conversation between two Gaza residents can be heard, confirming the presence of the Hamas command center beneath the Shifa Hospital.