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US Intelligence Confirms Hamas Has Command Centre Under Al-Shifa Hospital

US Intelligence Confirms Hamas Has Command Centre Under Al-Shifa Hospital

The US Intelligence has said it has evidence that Hamas has a command centre under Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. National Security spokesman John Kirby said the group stored arms there and were prepared for an Israeli attack.

This is the first time the US has independently backed claims by close ally Israel that Hamas uses hospitals to hide its bases. However, Hamas denies this. The statement came as Israel faced mounting global pressure to protect civilians trapped in the hospitals.

US President Joe Biden said that Al-Shifa hospital “must be protected” from intense fighting around the complex. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also said Israel must act within international law. The area around Al-Shifa, Gaza’s biggest hospital, has become the focus of fighting in recent days. Thousands of people are also believed to be sheltering there.

Previously the US intelligence had only cited open-source intelligence and would not confirm that it had its own sources for this.

“Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad members operate a command and control node from Al-Shifa in Gaza City,” he said. “They have stored weapons there and they are prepared to respond to an Israeli military operation against that facility.”

Mr Kirby also said this showed how challenging the Israeli operation was as “Hamas has deeply embedded itself within the civilian population”.

“As we have been clear on multiple occasions, Hamas’s actions do not lessen Israel’s responsibility to protect civilians in Gaza. This is obviously something we’re going to have an active conversation with our counterparts about.”

Responding to the White House’s remarks on Tuesday, Hamas said in a statement reported by the AFP news agency that Israel would use Washington’s assessment to give it a “green light” to commit “brutal massacres”. This is against medical facilities, “destroying Gaza’s healthcare system and displacing Palestinians”.

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