Israel unveils what it claims is a major Hamas militant hideout beneath Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital

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The Israeli military on Wednesday unveiled what it claimed was a Hamas military facility under Gaza’s largest hospital, showing what appeared to be a subterranean dormitory to a group of foreign journalists who were given a rare glimpse inside the besieged enclave.

Dozens of soldiers escorted journalists through a narrow stone tunnel — which the military said stretched 150 meters — to a series of underground bunkers beneath Shifa Hospital in a shattered Gaza City.

The living quarters, located at the end of the tunnel, had an air conditioner, kitchen, bathroom and pair of metal cots in a room fashioned from rusty white tile. They appeared to be out of use.

Since Israel declared war against Hamas on Oct. 7, it has repeatedly accused the Islamic militant group of using Gaza’s hospitals as cover for military use. It has paid special attention to Shifa, saying Hamas has hidden command centers and bunkers underneath the hospital’s sprawling grounds.

Israel has not yet unveiled this purported center, but the military portrayed the underground hideout as its most significant discovery yet. Hamas and the hospital administration have denied Israel’s accusations.

“Shifa Hospital is the hugest hospital in Gaza, and it’s also the hugest terror facility of Hamas,” said Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military’s chief spokesman, as bombardment thundered nearby. “Hamas battalion commanders were conducting command and control, firing rockets from here.”

The Associated Press could not independently verify Hagari’s claims.

The AP was allowed access to Gaza on the condition that its journalist stay with the Israeli military convoy throughout the four-hour tour and submit all material to a military censor ahead of publication. There is no other way for foreign journalists to currently access the enclave.

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