“Standing on the edge of the tunnel shaft, it was apparent that the structure itself was substantial. At the top, the remains of a ladder hung over the lip of the opening. In the center of the round shaft, a center pole looked like a hub for a spiral staircase. The shaft itself extended down farther than we could see, especially in the meager light of our headlamps.
Video released by the IDF from inside the shaft showed what we could not see from the top of the opening. The video shows a spiral staircase leading down into a concrete tunnel. The IDF said the tunnel shaft extends downwards approximately 10 meters and the tunnel runs for 55 meters. At its end stands a metal door with a small window.
“We need to demolish the underground facility that we found,” said IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari. “I think the leadership of Hamas is in great pressure because we found this facility, and we are now going to demolish it. It’s going to take us time. We’re going to do it safely, but we’re going to do it.”
It is arguably the most compelling evidence thus far that the IDF has offered that there may be a network of tunnels below the hospital. It does not establish without a doubt that there is a command center under Gaza’s largest hospital, but it is clear that there is a tunnel down below. Seeing what connects to that tunnel is absolutely critical.
For Israel, the stakes could not be higher. Israel has publicly asserted for weeks, if not years, that Hamas has built terror infrastructure below the hospital. The ability to continue to prosecute the war in the face of mounting international criticism depends to a large extent on Israel being able to prove this point.
Hamas has repeatedly denied that there is a network of tunnels below Shifa hospital. Health officials who have spoken with CNN have said the same, insisting it is only a medical facility.”