The Israeli army spokesman, Daniel Hagari, presented a video as evidence of Hamas military headquarters beneath Al-Rantisi Hospital. He also alleged that Hamas had detained prisoners in a room inside a tunnel beneath the hospital since the operation named "Al-Aqsa Flood," carried out on October 7. Hagari claimed that the Israeli army found evidence of this, such as discovering a group of weapons and other signs of hostage-taking, including personal items like a baby's milk bottle, a piece of rope tied to a chair. The spokesperson then showed what he said was a room prepared for detaining hostages there and recording them.
Flaws in the Occupation's Narrative Regarding Al-Rantisi Hospital
When checking the video, illogical inconsistencies in the Israeli narrative were noted. The Israeli Army spokesperson begins by claiming to stand in front of a terrorist's house, yet a visible sign on the building behind him indicates the National Institute for Administration and Training, an educational institution situated across from Al-Rantisi Hospital.
Hagari then adds that the alleged armed militants' tunnel discovered is 200 yards (approximately 182 meters) away from the hospital, but the camera did not capture any actual tunnel, only making a reference to it. Additionally, he revisits other shots claiming that the tunnel beneath the hospital was used as a headquarters by Hamas. However, no footage was presented connecting the alleged tunnel to the ground floor of the hospital, which was claimed to be a Hamas base.
The Claims Made About Hamas Tunnels Lack Clarity and Evidence
The spokesperson for the Israeli army did not present any footage from inside the tunnels; what was shown were mere openings and different locations that could not be verified for their authenticity. It is noteworthy that the spokesperson presented three different shots alleged to be tunnels. The first one was of a small, destroyed structure with architectural features not typically found in tunnels. The second shot showed an opening with electrical wires and fixtures seemingly related to the hospital's infrastructure, beneath an electrical box containing a solar power converter and circuit breakers. The third shot displayed a pile of debris also alleged to be a tunnel opening.
The spokesperson did not provide any explanation for why the camera did not approach or enter those openings naturally or capture them clearly, as was done in previous instances. For example, in 2014 when Israel claimed to have found a tunnel on the Gaza border, the camera freely roamed within the tunnel, providing a clear view.
On the other hand, the Israeli pages, when sharing the video clip, claimed that the footage was 'raw,' meaning original and unedited, despite the fact that the shots appear clearly edited and assembled as segmented clips. There is actually no justification for editing the shots in this manner, as continuous filming is a common journalistic practice that enhances the credibility of the recorded material.
Additionally, besides the editing, there are jump cuts in several scenes, raising doubts about the accuracy of the information presented in the video and weakening the evidence regarding any link between the alleged tunnel and Al-Rantisi Hospital.
Further confirming the clear segmentation and filming at different intervals is the presence of red marks on the forehead of the Israeli army spokesperson, which were absent in other parts of the video.
On the other hand, tunnels are usually hidden and their features aren not easily visible. However, the presence of the electrical box and solar power converter, which the spokesperson claimed extends clearly into the tunnel, strongly suggests it is a regular electricity converter linked to the hospital or perhaps a well for the hospital's communication, internet, or electrical network, as explained by Hamas leader Osama Hamdan in a press conference.
The Abandoned Tools and the Nature of the Place
The abandoned tools at the site suggest the presence of civilians who had previously sought refuge at Al-Rantisi Hospital. Among the items found were prayer rugs, electronic prayer beads, children's toys, and baby supplies, resembling some of the items seen days before the hospital's evacuation when a group of displaced individuals had taken shelter inside.
Regarding the children's drawings on the walls, it is logical to find them in a children's hospital. Reviewing the hospital's image archives showed these drawings abundantly displayed on its walls. It seems illogical for these drawings to exist within tunnels or military installations. Additionally, the way the weapons are presented and organized suggests they may have been moved to another location and arranged in the room for filming, as there was no display of the source or original location of these weapons before they were gathered or while being transported.
The Selectiveness in Presenting the Site's Features adds Ambiguity to the Israeli Narrative
The spokesperson for the Israeli occupation army deliberately chose selective displays of the site's features and details, highlighting one poster on the walls distinctly apart from others and various details. Moreover, the camera's restricted movement prevented the visibility of other contents on the walls, which could have provided crucial context for identifying the location.
Additionally, there were deliberate signs of possibly removed posters from one of the main doors bearing the word "exit," which could have had implications in identifying the nature of the section within the hospital.
The Director of Al-Rantisi Hospital Denies the Occupation's Allegations
Dr. Mustafa Al-Kahlout, the director of Al-Rantisi Hospital, emphasized in a press conference, that Israeli claims about the hospital's use by Hamas were inaccurate. He clarified that the hospital was besieged by tanks, cut off from water and electricity, and evacuated due to being targeted.
Al-Kahlout explained that the section presented by the Israeli army spokesperson, alleged to be an underground tunnel and an armed group's headquarters, was actually the hospital's basement initially designated for administrative purposes. However, after the Israeli war on Gaza, several families sought refuge in this building, and certain amenities were added, including baby supplies, bathrooms, and necessary health facilities. A review of the Palestinian Ministry of Health's website also supports this, showing that the ground floor houses hospital administration and supporting administrative services.
Allegations About the Detention of Israeli Prisoners Within the Hospital
The speaker presented what he claimed to be details of Israeli prisoners' traces, relying on details like the rope supposedly used to tie the prisoners to the adjacent chair, despite the displayed rope not being long enough to tie the legs.
On the other hand, the Israeli speaker claimed there was no justification for curtains on the wall without windows behind them, implying it was to conceal the surroundings when photographing the prisoners. However, images indicate these curtains are present in various parts of the hospital, likely designated for conferences, meetings, and media appearances within administrative buildings and meeting rooms. The question remains: How were the prisoners or militants evacuated from the hospital when it was entirely surrounded by the occupying forces before the evacuation?
The Inaccurate Interpretation of the Displayed Posters
The Israeli army spokesperson presented only one poster on camera, claiming it represented a schedule of 'terrorists' guarding prisoners. He pointed out that each 'terrorist' had their name written on the list beside their shift day. This was also reported by CNN without verifying the authenticity of the alleged schedule. However, it is notable that the list only contains days of the week, labeled with the Al-Aqsa Flood. While verifying the existence of this list beforehand is challenging, it is plausible that it could be a mere calendar used within the hospital, possibly for purposes like tracking days of the Gaza conflict for press statements, reports, or casualty counts.
Israeli Propaganda Targeting Hospitals in Gaza
Israel has previously disseminated claims without evidence, suggesting that these medical facilities provided safe havens for Hamas. Allegations included the presence of Hamas headquarters beneath Al-Shifa Hospital and previous claims of tunnels beneath Sheikh Hamad Hospital in Gaza. These claims were part of a wide-reaching Israeli propaganda campaign that aimed at the medical sector in Gaza. Numerous forged and verified pages were created, bearing the names of the Gaza Ministry of Health and the Gaza Hospitals Association, falsely assuming their official status.
Continuation of the Israeli Aggression on the Gaza Strip
These allegations come amidst the ongoing Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, deliberately targeting hospitals and medical personnel. Israeli forces invaded the Al-Shifa medical complex after days of besieging it with tanks and cutting off its fuel and electricity supply, raising concerns of a potential massacre.
General Director of Gaza's hospitals, Mohammed Zaqout, stated that upon the Israeli incursion, they found no armed individuals within the hospital. It is worth noting that Israel has not allowed international inspection teams such as the Red Cross to enter hospitals it claims house military command centers for Hamas. Additionally, the Israeli military has killed 198 doctors, nurses, and paramedics, targeted 55 ambulances, and rendered 25 hospitals non-functional since the start of the war on Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.