JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Israeli military on Sunday said it has exposed a network of Hamas tunnels, command centres and rocket launchers beneath and adjacent to hospitals in northern Gaza.
"Hamas systematically exploits hospitals as part of its war machine," Israel's chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters.
The Islamist group Hamas denies doing so and has accused Israel of spreading lies.
During the media briefing, Hagari presented videos, photographs and audio recordings that he said demonstrated Hamas' strategy of using hospitals as cover and preventing civilians from leaving combat zones.
He also said that over 800 rockets fired from Gaza at Israel during the war fell short and landed inside the enclave, killing many Palestinians. Iran-backed Hamas manufactures some of its rockets locally and also receives rockets from abroad.
It was not possible to verify Hagari's statements
Israel has for weeks focused attention on Gaza's main hospital, al-Shifa, accusing Hamas of using it as a shield for underground operational centres.
Hagari has now made similar allegations for two other hospitals in northern Gaza - the Qatari-funded Sheikh Hamad Hospital and a hospital built by groups from Indonesia.
Two of the videos of the Qatari hospital showed an opening to Hamas tunnels and Hamas gunmen firing at Israeli soldiers from within the hospital, Hagari said. One satellite image shows rocket launchers located across the street from the Indonesian hospital, he said.
"They launch rockets on Israel 75 meters from a hospital. Why? They know precisely that if Israel will air strike a launch pad like that, the hospital would be damaged," he said.
Israeli ground forces, backed by air and naval support, have encircled Gaza's largest city and are engaging in close-quarter combat with Hamas fighters.
The war began on Oct. 7 when Hamas carried out a cross-border assault that killed 1,400 people in Israel and took some 240 hostages into Gaza. About 9,770 Palestinians have been killed, stirring widening international concern over Israel's tactics.
(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Sharon Singleton)