Israel says weapons on video 'totally confirm' Gaza hospital was Hamas fortress: Updates

Editor's Note: For the latest news on the Israel-Hamas conflict, please see our live updates file here.

Israeli forces said they uncovered weapons and other evidence that "totally confirm'' Hamas was using Gaza's largest hospital for covert military purposes after an early Wednesday raid that brought an extra level of chaos to a medical facility lacking electricity and other basic needs for days.

The Israel Defense Forces posted a seven-minute, one-take video from inside the Al-Shifa Hospital's MRI wing showing rifles, grenades, ammunition, and fighting vests with the Hamas logo, which the IDF says it found during its incursion.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an IDF spokesman who demonstrates the weapons and other military equipment in the video, said the items "totally confirm, without any doubt, that Hamas systematically uses hospitals in their military operations in violation of international law.''

The findings could not be independently verified. The video did not show any tunnels or the command center the Israeli military says Hamas maintains at the hospital.

In a statement blaming Israel and President Joe Biden for a raid based on a "false claim," Hamas said the White House and Pentagon had given the Israelis a free pass "to commit more massacres against civilians."

The U.N. estimates at least 2,300 staff, patients and displaced Gaza civilians have taken refuge at the sprawling Al-Shifa complex as Israeli forces have been rolling through Gaza since Hamas militants' violent border rampage on Oct. 7.

After storming through the hospital earlier in the day, the Israeli military maintained an imposing presence at nighttime with tanks stationed outside and snipers on nearby buildings, Munir al-Boursh, a senior official with Gaza’s Health Ministry inside the hospital, told The Associated Press.

“Patients, women and children are terrified,” he told the AP by phone.

Israeli officials said in a statement the military brought medical teams, incubators, baby food, and medical supplies into the hospital incursion to ensure that "no harm is caused to the civilians being used by Hamas as human shields." Lt. Col. Richard Hecht also told CNN that no exchange of gunfire had taken place on hospital grounds.

Israel has claimed for weeks that Hamas was hiding militants and assets in Al-Shifa and other Gaza hospitals. The White House said this week it had intelligence confirming the claim, which Hamas leaders have repeatedly denied.

IDF enters Gaza hospital: Hamas targeted; thousands in D.C. rally for Israel


∎ The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution Wednesday calling for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors” in Gaza. Such resolutions are legally binding but often ignored.

∎ Reuters, citing three unnamed sources, reported that Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently told Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh that Iran will not enter the war in support of the militant group. That is encouraging news for the U.S. and Israel, which have worked to keep the war from spreading.

∎ The head of UNRWA, the U.N. relief agency for Palestinian refugees, confirmed Wednesday it has received 6,000 gallons of fuel that crossed into Gaza via the Rafah crossing but said much more is needed.

∎ Only about 10 of the 36 hospitals in Gaza are still operating, as a lack of fuel and damage from the war has forced nearly 75% of them to close, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. The WHO's Gaza representative, Dr. Rik Peeperkorn, said more than 80 bodies from Al-Shifa hospital were buried in a mass grave Wednesday and another 80 were left unburied.

∎ Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau's plea to Israel to stop "the killing of women, of children, of babies" in Gaza drew a sharp rebuke Wednesday from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on social media: "@JustinTrudeau, It is not Israel that is deliberately targeting civilians but Hamas that beheaded, burned and massacred civilians in the worst horrors perpetrated on Jews since the Holocaust."

More than 11,200 Palestinians — two-thirds of them women and minors — have been killed since the war began, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. And about 2,700 people have been reported missing.

A Palestinian boy stands among the destruction after Israeli strikes on Rafah, Gaza Strip, on Nov. 15, 2023.
A Palestinian boy stands among the destruction after Israeli strikes on Rafah, Gaza Strip, on Nov. 15, 2023.

Police arrest protesters outside Democratic HQ

Protesters chanted outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters on Wednesday night in a demonstration for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war. A campaign reception, consisting of Democratic representatives and candidates such as House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, was interrupted by the chanting outside.

Protesters said they wanted to block entrances and exits to force politicians hear their demands. Many demonstrators wore black shirts saying “Cease Fire Now.”

U.S. Capitol Police said about 150 people were “illegally and violently protesting," but demonstrators said police officers rushed them without warning. Capitol Police said six officers were treated for minor injuries and one protester was arrested for assaulting an officer. 

“It is shameful the way that nonviolent protesters and members of our community were met with violence tonight,” Dani Noble, who came from Philadelphia for the protest, told the Associated Press. “It is absolutely shameful.”

Biden to Israel: 'It's a big mistake' to maintain occupation of Gaza

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he did not think the fighting between Israel and Hamas would end until there's a separate Palestinian state.

Biden said at a news conference that he advised the Israeli government against the reoccupation of Gaza once the war ends.

"I'm not a fortune teller, I can't tell you how long it's going to last. But I can tell you, I don't think it ultimately ends until there's a two-state solution," Biden said. "I made it clear to the Israelis I think it's a big mistake for them to think they're going to occupy Gaza and maintain Gaza. I don't think that works."

Biden, who spoke to the press after a summit in San Francisco with Chinese President Xi Jinping, also commented on Israel's operation to root out Hamas militants at Al Shifa hospital in Gaza.

He said Hamas committed a war crime by hiding its fighters under a hospital. He said Israel did not go in with a large number of troops.

“We discussed the need for them to be incredibly careful,” he said. “This is not the carpet bombing. This is a different thing."

− Francesca Chambers and Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY

White House: No prior approvals for Israeli military operations

Israeli military operations in Gaza, including at Shifa hospital, are planned and executed without prior approvals from the Biden administration, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday. He said the U.S. believes hospitals should be protected. That means no attacks from the air and redoubled efforts to keep civilians, patients and medical staff from becoming victims of crossfire between Hamas and Israeli forces. But Kirby said he understands Israel's urgent need to push forward.

"We know that Hamas uses hospitals like Al Shifa for command and control for storage facilities, even sometimes, as a barracks of sort for their fighters," Kirby said.

Francesca Chambers

'Do they want us to die?' Refugees still bombed in south Gaza

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have fled the heavily embattled north of Gaza for the south at Israel's urging. They haven't necessarily found a peaceful refuge.

Besides jam-packed shelters and a scarcity of fuel and other necessities, the refugees are finding battered buildings and streets subjected to frequent bombardment that still continues. Israel has said there are Hamas targets in the south it needs to hit as part of its campaign to dismantle the militant group, and that it tries to limit impact to civilians.

Egyptian Mohammad al-Abdallah has been trying to leave Gaza since the bombing started. “They asked us to come from the north,'' he said. "And when we arrived, we stayed in an apartment here, and we were bombed. Do they want us to die? This is enough.”

FBI: Terrorists inspired by Hamas could attack US

Hamas or another foreign terrorist organization may exploit the current conflict in Gaza to conduct attacks on U.S. soil, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Wednesday. Wray, testifying before the House Committee on Homeland Security, cited a "rogue’s gallery" of foreign terrorist organizations including Hamas calling for attacks against Americans and U.S. allies since Oct. 7. Immediate concerns include "lone wolf" individuals or small groups inspired by events in the Middle East, he said.

"While this is certainly a time for heightened vigilance, it is by no means a time to panic," Wray said. "Americans should continue to be alert and careful, but they shouldn’t stop going about their daily lives."

Israeli forces began their assault on Gaza hours after Hamas militants stormed into Israeli border communities Oct. 7 on a violent rampage that left more than 1,200 people dead, most of them civilians, and more than 240 people taken hostage, according to the Israeli military. The Gaza Health Ministry says more than 11,000 Palestinians have died in the Israeli offensive aimed at freeing the hostages and crushing Hamas.

UN humanitarian chief joins calls for cease-fire

The U.N.'s top humanitarian affairs official, Martin Griffiths, issued a statement urging the combatants to respect international law and engage in an immediate cease-fire. Israeli officials have repeatedly said they won't stop fighting until all 240 hostages have been released. Griffiths also wants both sides to support efforts to bring a continuous flow of aid convoys into Gaza.

"As the carnage in Gaza reaches new levels of horror every day, the world continues to watch in shock as hospitals come under fire, premature babies die, and an entire population is deprived of the basic means of survival," Griffiths said. "This cannot be allowed to continue."

Jewish students sue NYU claiming antisemitism

Three Jewish students filed an antisemitism lawsuit against New York University accusing the school of civil rights violations that created a hostile educational environment in which Jewish students are subjected to "pervasive acts of hatred, discrimination, harassment and intimidation." The "latest and worst outbreak" has occurred since the start of the war in Gaza, the suit says, with numerous students and faculty "enthusiastically endorsing" the deadly Oct. 7 rampage of Hamas militants in Israel.

NYU spokesperson John Beckman said in a statement the school has worked to combat antisemistism and provide a peaceful environment for Jewish students. NYU "looks forward to setting the record straight, to challenging this lawsuit’s one-sided narrative," he said.

Humanitarian aid staffers imperiled in Gaza

The global humanitarian aid organization Mercy Corps says it is concerned for the safety of 70 staff members and their families in Gaza, spokesperson Milena Murr says. In an email to USA TODAY, Murr said staffers report an "increasingly desperate situation" that includes empty grocery stores, five-hour lines for bread that costs $30 for five pieces, cooking on wood or coal because there is no fuel. Internet and communication services could come to a halt as soon as tomorrow, Murr said.

"Our colleagues are making great effort to share their stories and the humanitarian catastrophe they are witnessing and experiencing," Murr said.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Israel Hamas war updates: IDF says weapons were found at Gaza hospital