The White House has its own intelligence indicating militant groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad use some hospitals in Gaza for military operations, according to multiple reports, as fighting between militants and Israeli forces reaches the edge of the Gaza Strip’s Al-Shifa hospital.
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said aboard Air Force One on Tuesday the U.S. has intelligence showing Hamas and PIJ are using hospitals and “tunnels underneath them to conceal and to support their military operations and to hold hostages,” including the massive Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, according to the Wall Street Journal and NBC News.
Kirby also said the U.S. doesn’t want the Al-Shifa hospital to be bombed or to see a firefight there, continuing President Joe Biden’s sentiment from Monday that hospitals “must be protected.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Israel released footage from inside a children’s hospital in Gaza showing weapons and explosives that were allegedly found in the hospital, along with a room where hostages were reportedly kept.
The Hamas-operated Health Ministry denied the Israeli government’s claims but admitted the video was from the children’s hospital, according to the New York Times.
Kirby’s comments came just after a press briefing with other White House spokespeople in which they said they could not “speak specifically to a report about a specific hospital or a specific bunker.”
Israel has continuously said that Hamas operates out of hospitals and uses civilians as cover for attacks—allegations denied by Hamas and by Gaza health officials. Israel faced criticism and more calls for a cease-fire in recent days as the Israeli Defense Forces have closed in on several hospitals in Gaza, many of which no longer have the means to treat patients and function as hospitals. On Monday, thousands of people remained in Al-Shifa hospital despite not having electricity or other resources for days due to fighting outside as Israel reached the gates of the hospital, according to the Wall Street Journal. It is against international humanitarian law to attack hospitals unless they are used “by a party to the conflict to commit, outside their humanitarian functions, an ‘act harmful to the enemy,’” according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.