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Israel-Hamas War Rages As Outcry Grows Over Gaza Crisis

Israel-Hamas War Rages As Outcry Grows Over Gaza Crisis

Israel is under pressure to provide evidence for its claim that Hamas uses Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, for combat purposes.

Hamas and medical officials deny the allegations. An International media organisation visited an exposed tunnel shaft that Israel claims is part of a larger network beneath the hospital. Staff, patients and sheltering Palestinians have fled Al-Shifa in the days since Israel raided the hospital.

Aid workers led a perilous evacuation for newborn babies from the complex, which the World Health organisation (WHO) called a “death zone” Sunday. The United States and Qatar have given upbeat assessments on talks to release hostages held by Hamas. A top US official told CNN that a deal feels closer than “perhaps at any point” Sunday.

Israel said Houthi rebels hijacked a cargo ship in the Red Sea with 25 crew members, but no Israelis, on board. The Yemeni group has voiced support for Palestinians and is among the Iran-backed proxies that have raised concerns of a broader conflict.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) showed CNN’s Oren Liebermann what they claim to be an entrance to a Hamas tunnel at Al-Shifa Hospital compound in Gaza. CNN’s Oren Liebermann went to the scene of what the Israel Defense Forces said is an exposed Hamas tunnel shaft at the Al-Shifa Hospital compound.

For weeks, the IDF has said Hamas uses Gaza’s largest hospital as cover for what they call terror infrastructure underneath. Hamas and hospital officials have repeatedly denied that the hospital, which the IDF raided last Wednesday, is anything other than a medical complex.

CNN reported from Gaza under Israel Defense Forces escort at all times. As a condition for journalists to join the embed with the IDF, media outlets must submit footage filmed in Gaza to the Israeli military for review. The Israeli military has released video from inside an exposed tunnel shaft at the Al-Shifa Hospital compound in Gaza City, showing an underground tunnel extending downward from the shaft opening.

The video, which runs 3 minutes and 27 seconds and was filmed on Friday, November 17, began outside the tunnel shaft with several Israel Defense Forces soldiers visible in the opening shot. The video then shows the soldiers preparing to lower equipment into the shaft to examine the interior. There is no audio throughout the clip.

As the camera is lowered into the shaft, a set of spiral stairs becomes visible around a central pole. The camera then begins advancing along the tunnel before coming to a sharp left turn. The walls of the tunnel appear to be made of vertical slabs of concrete, with an arched concrete roof.

After the turn, the tunnel continues before coming to a closed metal door with what appears to be a small viewing window. The IDF says it has not yet opened the door because the military fears it may be booby-trapped. The IDF said the tunnel shaft extends 10 meters (just over 30 feet) underground and the tunnel itself continues for 55 meters (180 feet).

“This type of door is used by the Hamas terrorist organization to block Israeli forces from entering the command centers and the underground assets belonging to Hamas,” the IDF and the Israel Security Agency claimed in a statement Sunday evening.

Hamas and hospital officials have repeatedly denied that the hospital is anything other than a medical complex. For weeks, the IDF has said Hamas uses Gaza’s largest hospital as cover for what they call terror infrastructure underneath.

IDF spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Hamas has a command and control center or headquarters underneath the hospital, which other senior Israeli officials have also insisted on. But having entering the hospital itself, the IDF is under tremendous pressure to prove the long-standing assertion with its promise of “concrete evidence.”

The exposure of the tunnel shaft and video of the tunnel underground is part of the IDF trying to build its case that Hamas uses the hospital for its own purposes. The IDF’s ability to continue its operation in Gaza, and the credibility of Israel, are at stake as the number killed in Gaza surpasses 12,000, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza.

The IDF said one of its missions in Gaza is to destroy Hamas, but with international criticism mounting, Israel has to show conclusively that the terror organization is using Gaza’s civilians and infrastructure as cover in order for Israel to justify an ongoing war. The White House has warned Israel against carrying out offensive operations in southern Gaza until it has adjusted to account for the hundreds of thousands of civilians who have fled south amid fierce fighting in the north.

Israel’s military, which has said Hamas leadership also fled south, is likely to move into the southern enclave, according to White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer, who added that the country has the “right” to do so, despite the serious concerns over civilian casualties. “We think that their operations should not go forward until those people, those additional civilians, have been accounted for,” he said, adding, “We will be conveying that directly to them.”

Finer told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Israel should learn from its operations in the north and focus on “greater and enhanced protections for civilian life.” Finer suggested “narrowing the area of active combat” and “clarifying where civilians can seek refuge from the fighting” to help that happen.

Finer said the Palestinian Authority, which has partial administrative control of the West Bank, will “have to be part” of any future governing solution in both the West Bank and Gaza following the current hostilities — a prospect that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has explicitly opposed.

“Our view is the Palestinian Authority is the only official institutional representative of the Palestinian people in the West Bank, that it will have to be part of any way forward when it comes to governance both in Gaza and the West Bank,” Finer said. A spokesperson for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which runs the schools in Palestinian refugee camps and serves as the main UN relief agency in Gaza, confirmed the strike on Saturday.

The exact number of deaths is not known, but video from al-Fakhoura School in Jabalya shows bloodied bodies across a series of rooms on two floors of the two-story building. Many women and children are among those killed. The spokesperson could not confirm what caused the blast, nor who was responsible. The Israeli military is reviewing the incident, it told CNN, but had no further comment.

It was the second time in 24 hours an UNRWA school in northern Gaza was struck, the agency said, as leaders and human rights workers raise concerns over the scale of civilians killed in Israel’s assault on the Palestinian enclave. Finer said he couldn’t assess Sunday morning whether Israel took US President Joe Biden’s advice about not being driven by rage in retaliating for Hamas’ attacks.

“It is less about a real-time assessment and much more about an ongoing process to try to steer things in the best possible direction, including for whatever combat remains during the course of this conflict. We believe the government of Israel can draw — should draw — lessons based on how the operations in the north have gone and apply those lessons to wherever it takes this conflict going forward,” Finer said.

The WHO said several patients have died over the past two to three days due to the lack of medical services at the hospital, which has become a focal point of the war.


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