U.S. spy agencies verified Israeli claims that Hamas and another Palestinian terrorist group used Shifa Hospital in Gaza City as a command center and to hold hostages, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
In late November, the Israel Defense Forces released extensive video evidence of terror tunnels under Shifa Hospital—the Gaza Strip's largest medical facility—saying it "unequivocally" proves the modus operandi of Hamas, "which systematically operates from hospitals."
The terrorist group held at least three of the estimated 240 hostages it kidnapped on Oct. 7 at Shifa, the IDF said.
Nevertheless, critics continued to claim that the IDF had little evidence Hamas used the hospital as a command post.
"In the weeks since the operation, news organizations have continued to raise questions about Hamas's presence at the hospital. And health and humanitarian organizations have criticized the Israeli operation. A humanitarian team led by the World Health Organization, which visited Al-Shifa immediately after Israeli forces stormed the hospital, called it a ‘death zone,'" the Times reported.
But a senior U.S. intelligence official said Tuesday that the American government was convinced that Hamas used the hospital complex to direct terrorist forces, store weapons and hold "at least a few hostages."
The official also said U.S. spy agencies had information that Hamas destroyed evidence before the IDF operation at the hospital got underway.
A U.S. official expressed confidence in the intelligence assessment as it was based on information gathered independently by both Israel and American agencies.
In November, the IDF recovered the body of Cpl. Noa Marciano, who was kidnapped by Hamas, in a building adjacent to Shifa Hospital. Also found next to the hospital was the corpse of another hostage, Yehudit Weiss.
Israeli forces arrested the hospital's director, Muhammad Abu Salmiya, on Dec. 23.
"In the hospital, under his management, there was extensive Hamas terrorist activity. Findings of his involvement in terrorist activity will determine whether he will be subject to further ISA [Israel Security Agency, i.e. Shin Bet] questioning," the IDF said in a statement.
Republished with permission from Jewish News Syndicate.