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TEL AVIV – Some Hamas leaders are believed to be hiding in bunkers underneath the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials.

The officials said they believe the Hamas members are using the Al-Shifa Hospital complex in Gaza not only as a hiding place but also as a sanctuary command center for some of the Islamist group’s operations targeting Israel.

The Hamas members believe they are safe underneath the hospital and have built tunnels in recent years to move in and out of the complex, the officials said.

The Shifa Hospital, located in the North Rimal district of Gaza, is one of the main receiving centers for those wounded in the current Israel Air Force bombardments of Gaza City.

Ironically, it was Israel in the 1980s that refurbished the hospital as part of an outreach effort to improve relations with Palestinians. Part of the Israeli reconstruction included a large underground cement basement with room for offices.

The facility was originally a British Army barracks in the 1940s before becoming a hospital. It was transformed by Egypt in the 1950s to a larger complex with more medical offerings.

 

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