Based on an intelligence assessment declassified on January 2, the US intel community believes that Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups had been using Al-Shifa Hospital as a command and control center and some of the hostages taken on October 7 had been held there, the New York Times reported.
The Israel Defense Forces fought to seize control of the hospital in November as Israeli officials said Hamas had constructed a vast tunnel complex beneath the hospital.
White House officials in November backed the Israeli’s assessment that Hamas was using the hospital as a command center.
In a press briefing on November 14, National Security Counsel spokesman John Kirby said US intelligence confirmed that Al-Shifa was being used as a “command and control node” by Hamas.
A senior intelligence official confirmed on January 2 that the US continues to believe that the hospital was being used by Hamas for command and control activities, weapons storage, and to hold “at least a few” of the hostages.
The official said US intel agencies obtained information indicating that Hamas evacuated the complex days before the IDF’s multi-day operation, destroying electronics and documents.
Following the operation, the IDF took reporters to the shaft leading to the network of tunnels beneath the hospital. Later reporters were taken down through the tunnel complex.
None of the hostages were rescued in the operation. However, Israeli officials confirmed that the bodies of two hostages were found in or near the tunnel complex.
Administration officials said the latest intelligence confirms the assessment that both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad used Al-Shifa to command their forces fighting against Israel.
The US intelligence agencies provided no visual evidence for the assessment. However, the intelligence official said the agencies were confident the assessment was correct based on the information independently collected by the US and Israel.
According to the new US intelligence assessment, Israel was partially correct that some of the hostages were held beneath Al-Shifa. However, the hostages were likely moved when Hamas evacuated the complex.