operational hub

Gaza hospital director admits Hamas used medical complex as operational hub

Ahmed Kahlot says doctors, nurses were members of al-Qassam Brigades and Islamic Jihad’s Quds Brigades; three soldiers killed in northern Gaza, IDF kills top Hamas money launderer.

Director of Gaza's Kamal Adwan hospital Ahmed Kahlot is seen being interrogated by the Shin Bet in a video published on Tuesday, December 19, 2023. (The Times of Israel: Shin Bet)
Director of Gaza's Kamal Adwan hospital Ahmed Kahlot is seen being interrogated by the Shin Bet in a video published on Tuesday, December 19, 2023. (The Times of Israel: Shin Bet)

(THE TIMES OF ISRAEL) The director of Gaza’s Kamal Adwan hospital in Jabaliya has revealed in a Shin Bet interrogation that his northern Gaza hospital was turned into a military facility under Hamas’s control and that at one point, it had housed a kidnapped soldier.

In footage published on Tuesday by the Shin Bet and Israel Defense Forces, hospital director Ahmed Kahlot could be seen telling an Israeli interrogator that Hamas had offices inside the hospital and used it as a base for operational activity.

According to Kahlot, who said he has been a lieutenant colonel in Hamas since 2010, some 16 members of the hospital’s staff — including doctors, nurses and paramedics — were Hamas operatives serving in the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the terror organization.

He added that several members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades were also employed in the hospital.

On December 12, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said that Israeli forces had entered the Kamal Adwan hospital, which the IDF later confirmed. Over the course of several days, troops detained some 90 operatives inside the hospital and seized numerous weapons.

According to a joint Shin Bet and IDF statement on the operation, some of those captured at the hospital had participated in the October 7 massacres in southern Israel, in which some 1,200 people were killed and around 240 were taken hostage.

Asked about Hamas operations inside the hospital complex, Kahlot revealed that one Hamas leader and two senior officials had offices inside the hospital.

“There are places for senior officials. They also brought a kidnapped soldier there,” he said. “There is a designated space for interrogations, internal security and special security. They all have private phone lines within the hospital.”

No further information about the kidnapped soldier’s identity or when he was brought to the hospital was provided.

“They hide in hospitals because they believe that hospitals are a safe place,” Kahlot told the Shin Bet interrogator. “They will not be harmed if they are inside a hospital.”

In addition to operating out of the hospital, Hamas operates its own private ambulances, which are a different color from those used by medics.

Palestinian men surrender to IDF troops at northern Gaza’s Kamal Adwan Hospital, in handout image published December 16, 2023. (The Times of Israel: Israel Defense Forces)

According to Kahlot, the ambulances used by Hamas aren’t ever volunteered for medical uses.

“Once I begged them to take a wounded man to the Indonesian Hospital or Shifa Hospital for treatment. They refused,” he said. “Their mission was more important.”

Asked what he thinks about Hamas now, after two and a half months of war, Kahlot didn’t spare his criticism.

“The leaders of Hamas are cowards,” he said. “They left us in the field while they’re hiding in concealed places. They destroyed us.”

Israel has long asserted that Hamas uses hospitals inside Gaza for military purposes, and since the start of the war triggered by the terror group’s deadly October 7 onslaught, the IDF has operated in several hospitals in northern Gaza, producing evidence to back up its claims.

On Tuesday, troops of the Combat Engineering Corps’ elite Yahalom unit discovered an explosive device hidden inside a health clinic in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood, the IDF said.

Also in Shejaiya, the IDF said troops of the Bislamach Brigade located many weapons belonging to Hamas operatives.

In another area of Gaza City, the 179th Brigade located and destroyed a tunnel shaft near the coast. After the tunnel was exploded, the troops identified a group of Hamas operatives fleeing to a nearby building, which was later struck by a fighter jet, according to the IDF.

In southern Gaza, the IDF said, troops of the 55th Brigade raided Hamas sites in Khan Younis, killing an operative who fired an RPG at them. A weapons depot was also found by the soldiers.

The military said that, meanwhile, the Navy has also continued to carry out strikes in Gaza, including buildings along the coast used by Hamas operatives and vessels.

On Tuesday, the IDF announced that three soldiers had been killed in Gaza, raising the number of troops who have died since the ground operation in Gaza began in late October to 132.

The three soldiers were identified by the IDF as Master Sgt. (res.) Daniel Yacov Ben Harosh, 31, of the 551st Brigade’s 6551st Battalion, from the West Bank settlement of Alon; Cpt. (res.) Rotem Yosef Levy, 24, deputy commander of the Combat Engineering Corps’ Yahalom unit, from Oranit; and Sgt. First Class (res.) Maoz Fenigstein, 25, of the 551st Brigade’s 7008th Battalion, from Susya.

All were killed in fighting in the northern part of the Strip.

In addition, the military said that two soldiers from the Golani Brigade’s 13th Battalion were seriously wounded in fighting in southern Gaza.

Master Sgt. (res.) Daniel Yacov Ben Harosh, 31, left, and Captain (res.) Rotem Yosef Levy, 24, right, were killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip on December 18, 2023. (The Times of Israel: Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF said that the 6651st Battalion had ambushed and killed dozens of Hamas operatives in recent days.

During operational activities in northern Gaza’s Atatra and Jabaliya, troops of the 6651st Reconnaissance Battalion located Hamas weapons caches and manufacturing plants, the IDF said, adding that the troops recovered a large number of firearms, rockets and explosives.

Sgt. First Class (res.) Maoz Fenigstein, 25, was killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip on December 19, 2023. (The Times of Israel: Israel Defense Forces)

The troops also raided nearby homes of Hamas operatives, locating further weapons there, and intelligence materials, the IDF said. The soldiers also found pictures of children in Hamas uniform, posing with weapons.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said on Tuesday that since the start of the war, more than 19,600 people have been killed. The number cannot be independently verified, however, and the health ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants, some 7,000 of whom are believed to have been killed since the start of the war.

Palestinian reports on Tuesday said that an Israeli airstrike on a home in Rafah killed at least 25 people, including women and children, and another strike killed at least three people, according to Associated Press journalists who saw the bodies arrive at two local hospitals earlier in the day.

Palestinians inspect the damage after an Israeli strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023. (The Times of Israel: AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

The IDF has not commented specifically but said one of its strikes on the southern Gaza city killed a top Hamas money launderer, Subhi Farwanah.

It was not immediately clear if this was the same strike.

According to the IDF and Shin Bet, Farwanah and his brother worked to transfer funds, using a currency exchange store, to Hamas and its military wing over the last few years.

The money exchangers received funds from Iran and other countries and laundered them for Hamas while avoiding international financing systems, according to the Shin Bet.

“Farwanah was one of the few and prominent money exchangers who was able to transfer to the military wing of Hamas the amount of money needed for the fighting,” the joint statement said.

According to the statement, Farwanah transferred tens of millions of dollars to Hamas over the last few years, as well as during the ongoing war, “knowing that the funds are essential to the continued ability of the [military wing of Hamas] to fight.”

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