Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the troops were still searching, having entered the hospital early on Wednesday after days of clashes around it. The military simultaneously released a video it said showed some of the materials it recovered from an undisclosed building
in the hospital compound, including automatic weapons, grenades, ammunition and flak jackets.
In one hospital department,"the soldiers located an operational command centre and technological assets belonging to Hamas, indicating that the terrorist organization uses the hospital for terrorist purposes," an Israeli military statement said.
Hailing the entry of his forces into the hospital, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement: "There is no place in Gaza that we cannot reach. There are no hideouts." "We will reach and eliminate Hamas and we will bring back our hostages. These are two sacred missions," he said.
Israel began its campaign to wipe out the Islamist group that rules Gaza after militants rampaged through southern Israel on Oct. 7. Israel says 1,200 people were killed and some 240 captives taken in the deadliest day of its 75-year-old history. Since then, Israel has put Gaza's population of 2.3 million under siege, battering the crowded strip with air strikes.
Tense Inside Hospital
Israel said its troops had entered the hospital compound on Wednesday after killing militants in a clash outside. Once inside, they said there had been no fighting and no friction with civilians, patients or staff.
Witnesses who spoke to Reuters from inside the compound described an at times tense situation as Israeli troops moved between buildings. Sporadic shooting was heard but there were no reports of anyone hurt inside the grounds.
The Israeli military released photos of a soldier standing beside cardboard boxes marked "medical supplies" and "baby food," at a location Reuters verified was inside Al Shifa. Other photos showed Israeli troops in tactical formation walking past makeshift tents and mattresses.
"Before entering the hospital our forces were confronted by explosive devices and terrorist squads, fighting ensued in which terrorists were killed," the Israeli military said.
"We can confirm that incubators, baby food and medical supplies brought by IDF tanks from Israel have successfully reached the Shifa hospital. Our medical teams and Arabic speaking soldiers are on the ground to ensure that these supplies reach those in need," it said.
Humanitarian Pauses Sought by UN
The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday called for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses in fighting between Israel and Hamas militants for a "sufficient number of days" to allow humanitarian aid access. It also called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas. The 15-member council overcame an impasse in four attempts to take action last month.
Israel has so far rejected calls for a ceasefire, which it says would benefit Hamas, a position backed by Washington. But a pause in fighting has been discussed in negotiations mediated by Qatar to release some of the hostages held by Hamas. An official briefed on the negotiations said Qatari mediators were seeking a deal that would include a three-day truce, with Hamas releasing 50 of its captives and Israel to release some women and minors from among its security detainees.
"Hospitals are not battlegrounds," he said in Geneva. Dr Ahmed El Mohallalati, a surgeon, told Reuters by phone that Al Shifa staff had hidden as fighting unfolded around the hospital overnight. As he spoke, the sound of what he described as "continuous shooting from the tanks" could be heard in the background.
"One of the big tanks entered within the hospital from the eastern main gate, and ... they just parked in the front of the hospital emergency department," he said.
The Israelis had told the hospital administration in advance that they planned to enter, he said. By mid-morning, he and other staff had yet to receive instructions from the troops, although the soldiers were "meters away" from them.
After five days during which he said the hospital had come under repeated Israeli attack, it was a relief at least to have reached an "end point," with troops now inside the groundsinstead of outside shooting in, Mohallalati said.