Home International Israel says soldier executed, foreign hostages held at Gaza’s Shifa hospital

Israel says soldier executed, foreign hostages held at Gaza’s Shifa hospital

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Israel stepped up accusations of Hamas abuses at the Gaza Strip’s biggest hospital, saying a captive soldier had been executed and two foreign hostages held at a site that has been a focus of its devastating six-week-old offensive.

A screen grab of a video released by the Israeli army on November 19, 2023, shows security camera footage of what they say were the Islamic militants of Hamas bringing in a hostage from Israel into the Shifa hospital on the day of the October 7 attack. Picture: Israel Defense Forces/Handout via Reuters

By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM – Israel stepped up accusations of Hamas abuses at the Gaza Strip’s biggest hospital on Sunday, saying a captive soldier had been executed and two foreign hostages held at a site that has been a focus of its devastating six-week-old offensive.

At one point a shelter for tens of thousands of Palestinian war refugees, Al Shifa Hospital has been evacuating patients and staff since Israeli troops swept in last week on what they called a mission to root out hidden Hamas facilities.

Israel is also searching for some 240 people Hamas kidnapped to Gaza after an October 7 cross-border assault that sparked the war.

One of these was a 19-year-old Israeli army conscript, Noa Marciano, whose body was recovered near Shifa last week. Hamas said she died in an Israeli air strike and issued a video that appeared to show her corpse, unmarked except for a head wound.

The Israeli military said a forensic examination found she had sustained non-life-threatening injuries from such a strike.

“According to intelligence information – solid intelligence information – Noa was taken by Hamas terrorists inside the walls of Shifa hospital. There, she was murdered by a Hamas terrorist,” chief spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said.

He did not elaborate.

The parents of Israeli soldier Corporal Noa Marciano attend their daughter’s funeral after her remains were recovered near the Al Shifa Hospital during the ongoing Israeli ground operation in Gaza, in Modiin, Israel, November 17, 2023. Picture: Reuters, Ronen Zvulun

In his televised briefing, Hagari said Hamas gunmen had also brought a Nepalese and a Thai, among foreign workers seized in the October 7 raid, to Shifa. He did not name the two hostages.

CCTV video aired by Hagari appeared to show a group of men frog-marching an individual into a hospital, to the surprise of medical staff. A second clip showed an injured man on a gurney. Another man nearby, in civilian clothes, had an assault rifle.

Hamas did not immediately comment on Hagari’s statements. The Palestinian Islamist group, which runs Gaza, has previously said it took some hostages to hospitals for treatment.

A screen grab of a video released by the Israeli army on November 19, 2023, shows security camera footage of what they say were the Islamic militants of Hamas bringing in a hostage from Israel into the Shifa hospital on the day of the October 7 attack. Picture: Israel Defense Forces, Handout via Reuters

Separately on Sunday, the Israeli military published video of what it described as a tunnel, running 55 metres in length and dug by Palestinians 10 metres under the Shifa compound.

While acknowledging that it has a network of hundreds of kilometres of secret tunnels, bunkers and access shafts throughout the Palestinian enclave, Hamas has denied that these are located in civilian infrastructure like hospitals.

The video showed a narrow passage with arched concrete roofing, ending at what the military, in a statement, described as a blast-proof door.

The statement did not say what might be beyond the door. The tunnel had been accessed through a shaft discovered in a shed within the Shifa compound that contained munitions, it said. A second video showed an outdoor shaft-opening in the compound.

An opening to a tunnel that, according to Israel’s military, was used by Palestinian militants under Al Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip as seen in this screen grab taken from a handout video released by the Israel Defense Forces on November 19, 2023. Picture: Israel Defense Forces, Handout via Reuters

Mounir El Barsh, the Gaza health ministry director, dismissed the Israeli statement on the tunnel as a “pure lie”.

“They have been at the hospital for eight days … and yet they haven’t found anything,” he told Al Jazeera television.

– REUTERS

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