News Release

Debunking Israel’s Claims About Hamas Control Center Under Al-Shifa Hospital


Israel and the Israeli Defense Force have consistently claimed that Hamas runs a military “command and control center” in tunnels under al-Shifa Hospital. Since October 7, the hospital––“once the largest, most advanced and best equipped referral hospital in Gaza”––has been under total siege by Israeli forces. The hospital was raided last week and is no longer functioning as a medical facility. 

    Loewenstein is former Associate Director of Middle Eastern Studies and Senior Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She founded the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project in 2003 and is currently active in Jewish Voice for Peace–Tucson and AZPAL, the Arizona-Palestine Network. She is a freelance journalist and editor.

Loewenstein told the Institute for Public Accuracy: These charges are a “lie, manufactured by the same Israel that wants to finish destroying the healthcare system in northern Gaza, complete the evacuation of the 1.3 million Gazans from the north into the south, and continue pulverizing the Strip so that it is literally uninhabitable. 

“Claims about Hamas roaming the halls of Shifa go back at least as far as 2007, and have been dredged up in almost every major war on Gaza,” including in 2008/9, 2014, and now in 2023. “There [were] even claims about armed militants roaming the halls in 2006 before Hamas took power.

“There are tunnels…underneath Shifa hospital––and Israel knows exactly where to find them. Why? Because they built them back in the 1980s.” Indeed, various sources note that tunnels under the hospital were built by Egypt prior to 1967 and by Israeli constructors in the 1980s. That “explains why Israeli intelligence knows where [the tunnels] are. Hamas’s military strategy is never to stay put in one location for very long––another reason why claiming a single command center inside Shifa is bogus and propaganda.”

“The ministry of health in Gaza, the hospital staff, UN organizations, journalists, & other individuals have [strongly denied this allegation] and repeatedly asked Israel to allow in the ICRC, the UNCIIP, and other impartial bodies to verify independently the existence of such a center, or to verify any evidence presented. Israel has consistently refused. The ‘intelligence’ they allegedly have has never been available to anyone other than the administration in Tel Aviv or Washington D.C. 

“If Israel is going to murder thousands and thousands of innocent civilians, and the U.S. is going to back its client state unconditionally, wouldn’t it seem reasonable that they’d want their claims of a Hamas ‘command and control’ center verified by as many groups as possible?”

The hospital tunnel charges have also been called into question by Democracy Now!, the Electronic Intifada, Al Jazeera, the BBC, the Washington Post, the Intercept, and the Guardian. These outlets have called on Israel to prove there is a Hamas command center under al-Shifa.