Investigation disproves Israel claim of Hamas tunnel under Gaza hospital

The hatch Israel claimed was a Hamas tunnel is only a water reservoir for the hospital.

A hole in the ground
A view of what the Israeli military says is an opening to Hamas underground infrastructure at Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani Hospital for Rehabilitation and Prosthetics [Handout via Reuters]

Sanad, Al Jazeera’s digital investigation agency, has disproved the latest claim by Israeli authorities that there is a tunnel for Hamas fighters under the Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani Hospital for Rehabilitation and Prosthetics, commonly known as the Qatari Hospital.

Israeli authorities have often claimed that there are command bunkers and main tunnels running under Gaza hospitals as a justification for targeting health facilities, which are protected in war by international law.

A video released by Israel’s military showed a hatch in the hospital courtyard, right next to an exterior wall, that they alleged leads to a Hamas tunnel.

However, Sanad’s investigation shows that this is simply the access hatch for a water reservoir that the hospital uses to fill therapeutic pools for amputees, water the grounds, and a reserve water source in case of emergency.

Sanad analysed satellite footage and archives of the hospital’s construction and spoke to one of the original engineers who built it.

The hospital, built by Qatar, became operational in 2019.

Like other hospitals in the besieged Gaza Strip, it has been damaged by Israel’s relentless aerial bombardment that targets medical facilities.

In its war on Gaza, Israel has claimed that certain hospitals in Gaza, such as al-Shifa, the enclave’s largest, are covers for Hamas tunnels and subsequently complicit in the group’s activities.

They argue that this justifies repeated bombardment on hospital vicinities, that not only host patients but displaced people from across Gaza. Experts have noted that such attacks could amount to violations of international law owing to the protected status of civilians and medical facilities.

Source: Al Jazeera