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 Oct. 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.
In his televised briefing, Mr. Hagari said Hamas gunmen had also brought a Nepalese and a Thai, among foreign workers seized in the Oct. 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.
Separately on Sunday, the Israeli military published video of what it described as a tunnel, running 55 meters in length and dug by Palestinians 10 meters under the Shifa compound.
While acknowledging that it has a network of hundreds of kilometers 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.
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