Israeli soldiers destroyed a network of tunnels underneath and around a hospital and an adjacent girls school in Gaza City, the Israel Defense Forces said on Wednesday night.
The three shafts, dozens of meters deep, were connected by an underground network passing under Rantisi Hospital and leading to the heart of Gaza City, the IDF said. The tunnels also ran under and around the nearby Ramaz Fahrah School. A special elevator installed in the girls school descended 20 meters down to the shaft.
"The exposure of the shafts near the hospital and school once again demonstrates Hamas' cynical use of the civilian population. Exposing Hamas' use of the residents of the Gaza Strip, including refugees and children, as human shields," the IDF said in a statement.
An operation to locate shafts found that the tunnels spanned several kilometers underneath Gaza City and led to another school. The tunnel also served as a command and control center for conducting combat and as a launching point for terrorist attacks.
Following intelligence information, Israeli forces uncovered another operational shaft inside a hideout residence used by one of the commanders of Hamas' naval unit in the Gaza Strip. This section of the tunnel included junctions and blast doors designed to protect the shaft's infrastructure and prevent soldiers from breaking in.
The entire tunnel network was demolished by combat engineers from the elite Yahalom Unit together with their counterparts in the 14th (Reserve) Armored Brigade.
The IDF released video footage from the tunnels and of their demolition, along with a map showing their path below the hospital and school.
Raids on buildings in the area of Rantisi Hospital uncovered further Hamas infrastructure, including command and control centers, media equipment, maps, aids, and numerous weapons.
At least 1,200 people were killed in Hamas' attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on Oct. 7. One hundred twenty-nine men, women and children are now believed to be held captive in Gaza by Hamas. Other people remain unaccounted for as Israeli authorities continue to identify bodies and search for human remains.
Republished with permission from Jewish News Syndicate