The investigative unit analysed old photos of the hospital as well as its floor plan.
Arab investigative unit Eekad published findings of a probe that looked into Israeli claims of Hamas using tunnels at a Qatar-funded hospital in Gaza for its operations on Monday, as the Gulf state denounced the allegations as “a blatant attempt to justify” the targeting of civilian facilities.
In a press conference on Sunday, Israeli occupation forces’ (IOF) Spokesperson Daniel Hagari pulled up footage and images of a number of hospitals in the besieged Gaza Strip which he claimed were being used as bases for Hamas operations, including the Qatar-funded Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa bin Thani Hospital.
“Qatar’s government had funded its establishment and it’s called the Qatari Hospital. Here you can see members of the Israeli defence forces revealing an opening for a tunnel, this is part of the land operation that was carried out at this hospital,” he claimed.
Inaugurated in 2019, the facility was the first prosthetic hospital to open in Gaza and was named after Qatar’s Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. The hospital has already sustained severe damage during Israel’s bombing campaign of Gaza.
Responding to the allegations on Monday, Chairman of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza Mohammed Al Emadi said Israel made the claims without providing “concrete evidence or an independent investigation”.
Speaking to Qatar’s news agency (QNA) on Monday, Al Emadi described Hagari’s statements “a blatant attempt to justify the occupation’s targeting of civilian facilities, including hospitals, schools, gatherings of population, and shelters of displaced people.”
Al Emadi confirmed to QNA that the hospital “was established transparently in accordance with the highest international standards under the supervision of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, with Israeli approval, for medical purposes, with thousands of people in Gaza benefiting from it.”
The Qatari envoy stressed “that such allegations should not be launched randomly, demanding that the Israeli allegations should not be taken at face value without an independent investigation into its circumstances.”
He also warned that targeting Sheikh Hamad Hospital in Gaza means “depriving thousands of patients of its services, which will be added to the series of war crimes committed by the occupation against civilians and their service facilities,” QNA reported.
No presence of tunnels
Meanwhile, Eekad launched its own investigation into the satellite images cited by the IOF official.
“We noticed that the occupation only displayed the hole in the ground, and did not display what it found inside it, and claimed that it was only a Hamas tunnel,” Eekad said.
The investigative unit referenced the image with old photos of the hospital as well as its floor plan, both of which showed the same two openings that Hagari claimed to be tunnels.
“The site had two openings that were already visible in the hospital courtyard, and they also appeared on satellite images of the hospital, which raises doubts about the possibility of them being a tunnel for Hamas, which always hides the openings of its tunnels,” Eekad explained.
Eekad further analysed a video published by the Al Saqqa and Khoudary contracting company that showed the construction process of the Qatar-funded hospital.
“By examining the clip, we noticed that the location of the two openings, one of which the occupation claimed was a Hamas tunnel, was surrounded and covered with a concrete roof, resembling an underground tank,” Eekad noted.
The presence of water and fuel tanks underground is common at hospitals seeking better storage.
Eekad cited the United States Environmental Protection Agency and ASPR TRACIE—a website of the US Department of Health and Human Services—which both stated that “hospitals may resort to building underground tanks” for water and fuel.
The Arab watchdog’s findings echo other investigations, including a probe bt Boycott4Pal, a Palestinian entity that monitors and debunks Israel’s media propaganda. The Palestinian watchdog also contacted the contractors who built the Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa bin Thani Hospital, who clarified that the so-called tunnels are in fact water tanks.
Eekad also said the facility “was one of the first hospitals to be bombed and put out of service” and has not been operational since at least October 15.
Authorities in Gaza have also refuted Israeli allegations and invited investigators to inspect the hospitals.
“The occupation adopted falsification and broadcast fabricated images to promote its claims about Gaza’s hospitals,” Gaza’s media office chief Salama Maarouf said. “We refute the occupation’s claims regarding Gaza’s hospitals, which provide only medical services.”
Khalil Al-Hayya, a member of the Hamas political bureau, called on international bodies to inspect the facilities.
“The occupation is promoting its lies in order to pave the way for a major massacre,” Al-Hayya told Al Jazeera.
Targeting of hospitals
Schools and hospitals have been among the most targeted locations since Israel began its devastating bombing campaign on October 7. The Israeli aggression has been ongoing for an entire month, killing more than 10,000 Palestinians, including 4,104 children—who represent 40% of the total toll.
Gaza’s already dwindling health sector has collapsed due to an absence of medical supplies and electricity.
More than one-third of hospitals in Gaza have already shut down either due to damage or lack of fuel, and the remaining 10 hospitals in the north of the Strip continue to face threats of bombing by Israel.
Hospitals in Gaza receive an average of one wounded person every minute and 15 bodies every hour, the Gaza Media Office said. An average of six children and five women are killed every hour and almost 70% of Gaza’s population has been displaced.
Health facilities, including the vital Al Shifa Hospital, have been receiving almost daily bombing threats by the IOF, which has already launched multiple attacks on surrounding areas. Part of the Al Shifa hospital was targeted on Monday, just days after Israel bombed its gates on Friday.
On October 17, the IOF carried out a massacre at the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital, in which at least 500 Palestinians seeking treatment and shelter were killed.
Israel has dropped more than 25,000 tonnes of explosives on Gaza since the start of the war, making it the equivalent to two nuclear bombs, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said on Thursday.
On Sunday, Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani slammed justifications of the ongoing massacres and called out Israel for its genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
“Every day, the occupation engages in genocidal practices and crimes of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people, not to mention the indiscriminate bombing of hospitals, schools, refugee camps and other civilian facilities in which the displaced, women, children and the elderly have taken shelter,” Sheikh Mohammed said.