The Israeli military said Hamas took over Al Wafa Hospital in Gaza City as its operational headquarters. The military said Hamas and Islamic Jihad commanders were directing operations and firing at Israel Army units from the medical facility, heavily damaged by the Israel Air Force.
“The hospital was used for activating war rooms and command and control centers by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” the military said.
In a statement on July 23, the military said Hamas deployed anti-tank missiles and machine guns in Al Wafa. The military said the hospital’s management allowed Hamas and Jihad to use Al Wafa for intelligence and tunnel warfare.
“Firing on our soldiers has grown in recent hours and endangered forces,” the military said. “As a result, the IDF has decided to strike terrorists operating in the hospital complex.”
Al Wafa is located in the Shejaiyeh district of Gaza City. The military said Shejaiyeh contained a high concentration of Hamas and Jihad medium- and long-range rockets.
Israeli military sources said Al Wafa had evacuated patients and staffers at Israel’s request. They said the only ones in the hospital were Hamas and Jihad fighters.
“There were several access shafts to the Hamas tunnel network from within the hospital,” a source said.
The United Nations Human Rights Council reported an army offensive in Shejaiyeh. In a statement on July 23, the council did not cite Al Wafa.
“In the area of Al Shejaiyeh, the full extent of casualties and damage to property is still unclear due to the continuous military ground offensive,” the UN said.
On late July 23, the Cabinet reviewed the 15-day war and considered proposals to widen ground operations in the Gaza Strip. Officials acknowledged heavy U.S. pressure to agree to a ceasefire with Hamas.
“We are preparing the next stages of the fighting once we are finished destroying the tunnels,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said.