The Israeli military has released a 15-minute video that takes viewers through a Hamas tunnel under the Shifa Hospital in Gaza. It’s an astonishing look at the amount of work that has gone into crafting a network that is estimated to be between 250 and 500 kilometres in length.
In the video, which plays out like a bizarro version of a real estate show, Col. Elad Tsuri walks us through some of the facility’s amenities. “Look at this ceiling,” he says at one point, reaching up to touch the drop ceiling tiles in one of the rooms off the main passage. “This is not just a regular tunnel.”
“It’s more convenient for long living,” he says at another part of the video. “You have toilets and you have rooms that were built in order to contain people.”
He points out communications conduits and electrical outlets, explaining that power comes from the building above. “The hospital is providing electricity,” he says. “They’re using the hospital infrastructure in order to provide this terror mechanism to stay alive and survive.”
The hallways are made of study concrete with arched ceilings that the soldier is able to walk through without crouching. Tsuri explains that Hamas has been making arched tunnels of this type for the last 15 years.
Beyond the bare essentials are such trimmings as handrails on stairs, kitchen countertops, tiles in kitchens and bathrooms, and even an air conditioning unit in one room. The soldier explains that the air conditioning mechanism on the surface helped them locate the tunnels below.
There are occasional lightweight interior doors, but we also see a heavy steel blast door, which our guide shows off with grudging respect. “This blast door allows them to prevent blasts by our air force, meaning it can maintain the preservation of parts of the tunnel.”
It can also hold back invading Israeli troops, he notes, before reminding viewers where they are. “Above us, patients, wounded, doctors, all being a human shield for this tunnel system here at Shifa hospital.”
At about the two-thirds mark, the video takes viewers outside the hospital to a street a block away, where an ordinary-looking apartment hides an entranceway to the tunnel system.
Inside the ruined structure is what appears to be a classroom with a chalkboard covered in English-language lessons. But in a corner, the floor has been lifted to reveal a short staircase that leads to a glass door and then a further spiral staircase.
“One direction goes to the Shifa hospital,” Tsuri explains. “The other direction goes to different places, where the terrorists can move using the safe haven, the human shield of the hospital, the human shield of those regular houses providing them shelter, held by civilians.”
He adds: “And they choose it in the most barbaric and cynical way. They use it in a room that should have provided teaching for children. This is their choice. This is what we’re fighting.”
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