Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Monday that Israel had built bunkers "decades ago" underneath Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
“It’s already [been] known for many years that they have the bunkers that originally [were] built by Israeli constructors underneath Shifa [which] were used as a command post of Hamas. And, a kind of junction of several tunnels are part of this system,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview.
“It's probably not the only kind of command post, several others are under other hospitals or in other sensitive places, but it for sure had been used by Hamas even during this conflict,” he added.
Israel captured Gaza from Egypt in 1967 and held the territory under full military occupation until 2005 when it withdrew its settlers and soldiers in a move known as the ‘disengagement.’ Hamas assumed full control inside the enclave two years later.
“It was probably five or four decades ago that we helped (the Palestinians) to build these bunkers in order to enable more space for the operation of the hospital within the very limited size of this compound,” Baruk said.
Some context: Ahead of raiding the hospital complex last week, Israel claimed that it was being used by Hamas as a command center.
The Israel Defense Forces on Saturday showed CNN what it said was “concrete evidence” that Hamas was using the complex above ground as cover for what it called terror infrastructure underneath, including a command and control hub.
The military showed what a commander described as a big tunnel. “This is a big tunnel,” he said. “I have encountered tunnels — in 2014 in [Operation] Protective Edge, I was a company commander — and this tunnel is an order of magnitude bigger than a standard tunnel.”